How teachers say 'I do' to seven day holiday to marry
TEACHER brides and grooms-to-be can take an extra seven days away from the classroom to plan their weddings.
In an agreement that dates back to the 1970s, teachers get uncounted holidays to walk down the aisle.
The Department of Education and Skills has admitted that almost 300 teachers have taken an extra seven days additional leave in recent years due to the decades-old deal.
The controversial deal -- which was negotiated in the 1970s and 1980s -- allows teachers to take the time off in the days surrounding their wedding, "subject to approval by school management".
And a teachers' union has admitted that "a relatively high" number of applicants for the paid leave is anticipated in the years to come, given that half of Ireland's teachers are aged 20-40.
The seven-days leave, which includes Saturday and Sunday, was devised under a Department of Finance circular in 1974 and firmed up under the 1980 pay agreement.
The Department has revealed that "about 295 teachers per annum in primary, voluntary secondary and community/comprehensive schools have availed of this leave in recent years".
And the overall number of teachers who have availed of the days off is predicted to be much higher as the department's figures do not include the 240 vocational and community schools.
These schools represent 6pc of the primary and secondary schools in Ireland, but the Department does not have access to their financial information.
The deal means schools have been sidelining extra money to cover the costs of supervision -- taking funds away from other areas of education.
Low-level civil servants are also able to avail of a similar entitlement, according to the Department of Finance.
A spokesperson for the Irish National Teachers Organisation said the number applying for marriage during school time equates to less than 1pc.
He added: "While teachers' holidays are relatively good, they lack the flexibility that many other workers enjoy. As a consequence, the unions negotiated a period of marriage leave to facilitate arrangements during the school year. In general, cover is provided by a teaching colleague or colleagues at school level."
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Joint Management Body -- the organisation that represents school boards of management -- accepted that "anything that causes a loss of teaching and learning time" is concerning.
The spokesperson added, however, that marriage leave was on the lower end of the entitlement scale for teachers.