The critical illness protocol (CIP), which governs public service arrangements for those on long-term sick leave, has been improved to allow more managerial discretion about what constitutes a ‘critical illness’ in cases where the precise medical criteria are not met.
New ‘CIP managerial discretion guidelines,’ negotiated with Fórsa and other unions, make it clear that managers have the flexibility to accept illnesses as ‘critical’ even if they have not quite met the threshold on the basis of medical certification.
An appeals mechanism against unfavourable management decisions, with access to third party adjudication, has also been agreed.
The CIP arrangements for the ‘protective year’ have also been improved. The ‘protective year’ allows staff who return to work following a critical illness to avail of remaining CIP leave for subsequent non-critical illnesses or injuries within one year of their first date of absence.
This protective year period will now begin on the date of return, which means more support for those returning from a serious illness who then suffer a routine health problem in the following 12 months.
The changes are now rolling out in the civil service and will then extend to other parts of the public service, including non-commercial semi-state organisations.
Fórsa is still in discussions about the calculation of certain types of sick leave in the one year/four year look back periods, and on the application of temporary rehabilitation remuneration (TRR). Union officials think these issues are likely to be referred to the Labour Court, due to the absence of agreement.
The CIP provisions of the sick leave scheme retain the original six months on full pay and six months on half pay arrangements.