Monday 27 February 2017

Council boss tops holidays table with 43 days

Anne-Marie Walsh and Paul Melia

A county manager has taken top spot in the league table of holiday entitlements -- with 43 days holidays.

Roscommon county manager Frank Dawson currently enjoys more days off than his colleagues in the local authorities.

The new holiday high is the latest revelation in an Irish Independent investigation that found senior staff at five county councils enjoying holidays of 40 days or more.

The other four are Longford, Kilkenny, Kerry and Cavan county councils.

The survey of the local authorities has revealed the highest leave entitlements range from 32 to 43 days, made up of annual leave and extra privilege days. This is up to three weeks more than private sector workers and more than a week more than senior civil servants.

Until yesterday, Longford county manager Tim Caffrey, with 42 days a year, appeared to enjoy the highest amount of holidays.

However, Roscommon County Council has revealed its county manager can take 43 days off each year. It said annual leave ranges from 23 days to 40 days, and staff get another three privilege days at Christmas.

This is on top of the usual nine public holidays and Good Friday enjoyed by most workers.

In a statement, Mr Dawson said county and city managers wanted to reduce the maximum annual leave for local authority staff to 32 days.

"The annual leave arrangements in local authorities were identified as an issue by the county and city managers during the negotiation of the Croke Park Agreement last June and proposals for the standardisation and reduction of annual leave across the local authority sector were included in the Local Government Sectoral Action Plan in September," he said.

The managers also issued a joint statement yesterday to say they were committed to a 32-day cap on leave and "look forward to an early implementation of this issue under the Croke Park Agreement".

The Local Government Management Services Board has proposed a leave entitlement scale, based on grades, and aims to reach agreement by Christmas. It wants to limit leave to 23 days for clerical staff and to 32 days for senior engineers, directors of service and city and county managers.

Controversy

But the proposal has been rejected by unions and has been referred to the implementation body overseeing the Croke Park deal. Public Sector Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has vowed to standardise leave in the local authorities and across the public sector in the wake of the controversy.

However, one source close to the Croke Park Agreement predicted it would be "impossible" to standardise leave in the wider public sector given the complexity of entitlements in individual sectors, including education and health.

Annual leave arrangements were decided by each local authority over the years.

Holidays include annual leave and extra privilege days at Christmas and Easter, and free days and half-days during local festivals. Leave entitlements also increased over the years when church holidays were converted into annual leave.

Meanwhile, Galway County Council said maximum leave is 38 days, including privilege days, as well as "a number of hours" on three race days.

Irish Independent

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