Civil servants seek increased ‘divorce leave’

Forsa trade union to demand three days’ leave for members separating or divorcing

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Staff in the Civil Service want the Government to provide additional paid leave for those who are going through a marriage separation or divorce.

Delegates at the Forsa trade union’s Civil Service conference next week want the current paid leave allowance of 1.5 days for staff to attend court and meetings with legal representatives in cases of separation or divorced increased to a minimum of three days.

The Department of Public Expenditure confirmed on Wednesday there are arrangements at local level for civil servants going through a separation or divorce to receive additional paid leave.

A spokesman for the Department said the arrangements for such additional leave went back nearly 30 years and pre-dated the introduction of divorce in Ireland.

He said a claim had been put forward by trade unions representing Civil Service personnel in 1991 for the provision of additional leave for those going through a marriage separation.

The spokesman said the provision for the additional paid leave for those staff going through a marriage separation was subsequently put in place on foot of the findings that emerged from a conciliation and arbitration process.

The Department said this arrangement applied only to the 35,000 or so staff in the Civil Service and that the position in other parts of the public service was a matter for these organisations.

Teachers also qualify for additional leave when going through legal separation procedures.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said on Wednesday: “A teacher may be granted, subject to board of management approval, one day paid leave in respect of legal separation proceedings where the proceedings take place when the school is open. “

“Paid leave to attend court/legal consultations/family mediation related to marriage breakdown/divorce/separation is not generally available to non-teaching staff in Education and Training Boards (ETBs), with the exception of some former SOLAS staff who have transferred to ETBs. The matter has been raised with the Department by the Unions representing staff in ETBs. “

The largest public service employer - the health service with more than 100,000 employees - said “no such leave was available in the HSE”.

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