Howlin to tackle culture of sick leave entitlement
Published 01/12/2011 | 05:00
THE minister in charge of reforming the public service claimed yesterday that some state employees feel sick pay is an "entitlement" to be taken regardless of whether or not they are ill.
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said the practice was not "endemic", but had to change.
However, he did not say which sector of the public service he was talking about.
He added that there were "areas of the public service" where staff believed: "I haven't used up my sick days yet, as if I had an entitlement."
Addressing a Dail committee yesterday on his new blueprint document for reform, he said absenteeism rates should be put up in "big print".
He promised to announce measures to reform sick pay, allowances, and the evaluation of public servants next week.
Reforms have already been promised on all of these areas under the Croke Park deal but little light has been thrown on their progress, despite numerous reports.
For instance, the civil service plan promised a 10pc reduction in sick leave -- but did not give figures on where it currently stood or what the target amount of sick leave was.
Mr Howlin hinted he was unhappy with some of the current reform plans put forward by managers.
He said there was a need for clear, co-ordinated plans on reform for each sector of the public service.
Mr Howlin also hinted that further measures may be taken to tackle "exorbitant" pay rates in top public service positions.
He was questioned about whether the Government will be able to reduce the pay bill by a promised €2.5bn by 2015, due to increased pension costs when staff retire.
But Mr Howlin insisted this target was a "net saving" although it also includes savings made by the previous government since 2008.
Mr Howlin said the Government had tackled annual leave for county managers, after the Irish Independent revealed some of them got over 40 leave days a year.
Meanwhile, employers will have to grant the same pay and conditions to agency workers as permanent employees from Monday.
The move comes after Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton failed to get the social partners to agree to a 12-week delay before workers get equal treatment, according to the European directive.