Thursday, 8 March 2018

Ceisteanna (201)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

201. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the process used for the assessment of injury and illness and the granting of workplace accommodations and lighter duties in the Irish Prison Service; the rules governing employment in An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service or the emergency services prior to the implementation of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11118/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that once an employee is removed from the payroll after reaching the maximum paid sick leave allowed under the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 12/2015, they may be entitled to Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration (TRR).

It is an occupational requirement for employment in the prison service that persons employed therein are fully physically capable of meeting the challenges of the job and are available to fully undertake the range of functions that they may be called upon to perform.

Employees absent on sick leave are routinely referred to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to obtain up-to-date medical advice.  In the event that the Chief Medical Officer indicates that an employee is not yet fit for the full range of operational duties or contractual hours, s/he may be accommodated for a maximum of 3 months under the Irish Prison Service Accommodations Policy (Rehabilitative/Restricted Duties).  This can only be considered where the CMO has advised that the officer is likely to be fit to carry out full duties in that timeframe.

An employee may be accommodated in a restricted role if a suitable post within the prison is available.  The Irish Prison Service does not have capacity to accommodate staff on longer periods of these duties as there are very limited posts available.  In the event that a suitable post cannot be identified or is not available, the employee is required to remain on sick leave until such time as s/he is fit for full duties.

While the Irish Prison Service endeavours to provide reasonable accommodations, within the constraints provided by the prison environment, it should be noted that there is no onus on the Service to provide such accommodations and this is reflected in the employment equality legislation, i.e., section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2015:

“It is an occupational requirement for employment in the Garda Síochána, Irish Prison Service or any emergency service that persons employed therein are fully competent and available to undertake, and fully capable of undertaking, the range of functions that they may be called upon to perform so that the operational capacity of the Garda Síochána or the service concerned may be preserved.”

Prior to the Employment Equality Act 1998, this aspect of employment in the Irish Prison Service was subject to the Employment Equality Act 1977.  Section 12 of that Act stated:

(1) This Act does not apply to employment—

(a) in the Defence Forces,

(b) in the Garda Síochána,

(c) in the prison service, or

(d) in a private residence or by a close relative.