Civil servants and teachers are entitled to paid time off to deal with legal issues involving marital breakdown, Government departments have confirmed to RTÉ News.

However, the entitlement does not apply to public servants in local authorities, the Health Service Executive or gardaí.

At the Forsa trade union civil service conference next week, delegates will debate a motion seeking to have the entitlement of 1.5 days paid leave increased to three.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform confirmed that, under an agreement between management and unions, each affected civil servant would be entitled to a day and a half of paid leave for attendance at court proceedings, consultations with solicitors or appointments with the family mediation service.

Asked how many civil servants would have availed of this entitlement, or the potential cost of it, the department said the arrangements are applied at a local level, so it does not collect data.

The department also confirmed that civil servants are allowed up to five days paid special leave at the time of marriage subject to an overall total - between annual leave and marriage leave - of 27 days in the leave year in which the marriage takes place.

Accordingly, any civil servant with annual leave in excess of 27 days is not entitled to any marriage leave.

A spokesperson for Forsa said that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had confirmed to the union that there was no formal entitlement to leave for court or meetings with legal representations during divorce proceedings. 

He said that what exists is a facility that gives management discretion to allow or refuse leave. 

The Department of Education and Skills confirmed that a teacher may be granted one day of paid leave in respect of legal separation proceedings where the proceedings take place when the school is open, although the entitlement is subject to approval from the  board of management.

However, the paid leave entitlement is "not generally available" to non-teaching staff in Education and Training Boards, with the exception of some former SOLAS staff who have transferred to ETBs..

A spokesperson noted the matter has been raised with the department by unions representing staff in ETBs.

She said any queries in relation to the position in the higher education sector should be referred to the institutions themselves.

The HSE confirmed that marital breakdown leave does not apply to its employees, as did An Garda Síochána.

The Local Government Management Agency also said that local authority employees did not have such an entitlement.

The Chief Executive of business lobby group ISME has described the marital breakdown leave entitlement as part of an extraordinarily generous package, which looked like "gold-plating."

Neil McDonnell said it was unclear whether benefits like marital breakdown leave were taken into account when the Public Service Pay Commission was calculating the value of the overall remuneration package in the public service.