Irish Medical Organisation

New Provisions – COVID 19 Special Leave with Pay

As you will no doubt remember, when COVID – 19 special leave with pay was introduced, it was intended to ensure that those who contracted the virus should not exhaust their normal sick leave. The special leave was capped at fourteen days.

As the situation has developed, it has become clear that the recovery time for those who do contract the virus can extend beyond a fourteen day period. As a result, healthcare workers found that they exhausted the special leave with pay provisions and had to use their own sick leave.

Subsequently, and after pressure was brought to bear by the IMO and other health service unions, it has been agreed to extend the period covered by COVID – 19 special leave with pay to twenty eight days.

This provision will come into effect for new and ongoing cases from 1st January 2021.

The relevant HSE HR Circular can be read here.

The following rules will apply / continue to apply:

  1. The healthcare worker must be advised to self-isolate and is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or has had a positive test;
  2. Ongoing medical certification will be required;

In certain circumstances, it may be possible to extend the period of special leave with pay beyond the twenty eight day limit. The relevant criteria are set out in section three of the Circular and, in essence, will require a link to be drawn between contracting the virus and the workplace and also Occupational Health certification of an unfitness to return to work.

This circular should be read in conjunction with the IMO flyer of 20th November which sets out the payments to be included in COVID special leave with pay.

If you have any queries in this regard, please contact the IMO Member Advisory Unit on (01) 6767273 or

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