In the High Court today 26th May Mr Justice Peart granted leave to the PNA to challenge the New Sick Pay Scheme Regulations introduced by Minister Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform by judicial review. The case is listed for July 15th next.
Our legal team sought an order quashing the Public Service management (Sick Leave) regulation 2014 which halved the sick pay entitlement of public servants including psychiatric and Intellectual Disability nurses with effect from 1st April 2014. In its submission to the Court, the PNA argues that no reason has been provided for the exclusion of certain groups such as Central Bank staff from the new rules, while psychiatric nurses who work in situations of "extreme stress and significant hazard" are included.
We argued that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform acted outside his powers in interfering with an established sick leave scheme in existence since 1971 making it a contractual entitlement.
Generally under the old sick pay scheme, public servants were entitled to six months certified sick leave on full pay, followed by six months on half pay over a four-year period. After that 12-month period of illness, the employee was entitled to the "pension rate of pay", subject to medical certification that there was a reasonable expectation that the employee could return to work.
The new regulations would reduce those periods to three months on full pay and three months on half pay with a provision for “rehabilitation pay” to replace pension rate of pay, the application of which is vague and indeterminable.
The PNA argues that although we accepted the HRA with the authority of members, the agreement, or its forerunner, the Croke Park Agreement, contains no overt particulars or details concerning the modification of our sick leave entitlements.
The case has been taken against the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General.
Deputy General Secretary