As the Deputy will be aware, in July 2012 sick leave arrangements for all public service employees under the Croke Park Agreement were the subject of a Labour Court Recommendation for the introduction of a comprehensively reformed Sick Leave Scheme for the public service.
The basis to the reformed scheme was the unsustainable cost of sick leave for the public service (i.e. approximately €500m) and the urgent requirement in that context to reduce those costs by curbing absenteeism.
Under the new arrangements for most employees in the public service the amount of paid sick leave which they may be granted will be halved.
It is envisaged that significant cost savings will be achieved under the reforms through a parallel approach of revising the current paid sick leave arrangements and implementing more robust systems to manage sick leave actively by line managers.
Arrangements are currently being made by my Department, including through necessary legislative change to ensure that the new arrangements are fully in place from 1 January 2014.
The changes to self-certified sick leave were introduced from November 2012. The impact of the reduction in access to self-certified paid sick leave is, therefore, expected to be reflected in the costs of self-certified sick leave for 2013. The changes to certified sick leave, where the majority of sick leave costs arise (i.e. estimated at almost 90 per cent in 2012), will be implemented in January 2014.
My Department will be examining, in consultation with other Departments and the main sectors of the public service, appropriate arrangements for monitoring the impact of the reforms to paid sick leave in the public service.