Wednesday 1 March 2017

Civil servants given extra holidays before reforms

Annual leave

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

HIGHLY-PAID public servants will enjoy a holiday bonanza under government plans to set a 32-day cap on their annual leave.

Workers in some parts of the public sector were enjoying more than 40 holiday days a year. Now this has been capped -- but they will get extra days off next year as once-off compensation.

They will get a once-off bonus of one-and-a-half times the number of days they will lose. This means they could enjoy more annual leave next year than they do this year.

For example, a county manager entitled to 43 days' annual leave will lose 11 days' to bring them down to the 32-day limit.

However, they will be compensated with 16-and-a-half extra days, which means they will have 48-and-a-half days to take next year.

Twenty-five workers at Kerry County Council, earning between €64,426 and €106,900 a year, who get 40 days off, will lose eight days indefinitely, but will get once-off compensation of 12 days.

Secretary generals in government departments, who get 33 days off a year, will lose one day a year, but will get one-and-a-half days compensation.

The plans also means workers who are currently on 22 days' leave are set to get an extra day off from January, even if they have not qualified for it.

Leave

Management say they will get the extra day even if they have not reached the date when they are due to move up to a higher level of leave.

Sources said this incentive and the compensation offer is an attempt to get public servants to accept the plans, which have not been fully agreed with unions.

The new arrangements cover public servants in health, local government, the civil service, non-teaching staff in education and non-commercial semi-state organisations.

Most public servants already get fewer days off than the new limit but the Department of Finance does not know how many get more than 32 days.

It is believed that most of them are in the local authorities.

The department said anyone with over 32 days' leave will get compensation but said extra leave many not be taken next year as a timeframe has not been set.

County managers have already accepted the new 32-day limit.

"It is up to each organisation to assess the impact of the leave and try to spread it out," said a spokesman.

"This will differ from organisation to organisation, and could be taken over a three-year period."

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin announced the proposals to streamline the ad-hoc annual leave system yesterday.

Mr Howlin said he was "confident" that the public service unions would accept the proposals.

"These arrangements will see the abolition of historically based local leave arrangements such as festival and race days," he said. "It will also eliminate many of the anomalies that exist under the current leave arrangements."

Minimum leave for all public servants will be 22 days.

Staff redeployed to an area with less annual leave will also get compensation. However, there was little mention of reforms that have made little progress or missed deadlines.

Irish Independent

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