County manager defends time off
42 days of holidays 'broadly similar' to other councils, says Longford boss
A COUNTY manager yesterday defended his 42-day annual holiday entitlement.
Longford's Tim Caffrey claimed that his annual leave -- the highest among local authorities -- was "broadly similar" to that in other councils.
But the Irish Independent's investigation shows that the maximum amount of time off for senior council staff across the country varies vastly -- from 32 to 42 days.
Some local authority bosses are enjoying more than twice the length of holidays given to lower-paid workers.
Mr Caffrey welcomed government proposals to standardise annual leave by next December, under the terms of Croke Park deal.
However, he would not say how far he was prepared to go to achieve this.
"Annual leave entitlements for local authority employees are broadly similar across the sector," he said, adding: "It is proposed in the Longford authorities' action plan, under the Public Service Agreement, to reduce and standardise annual leave across the sector and I welcome this proposal."
Mr Caffrey's leave is more than double the minimum 20-day legal entitlement, over three weeks above the average among senior staff in the private sector and two weeks more than civil-service secretary-generals.
Waterford County Council is the latest local authority to reveal its annual leave entitlements.
It said they are up to 34 days, as well as half-days for the Dungarvan agricultural show and the Tramore Races, and an extra day at Christmas.
Pressure is mounting on the Government to deliver major reforms -- including a review of leave -- which were promised under the Croke Park agreement and are now under intense scrutiny by the IMF.
A spokesman for the new minister for public sector reform, Brendan Howlin, last night criticised the slow pace of reform under the Croke Park deal and promised to review leave entitlements.
"Overall," said the spokesperson, "it is the Government's view that the pace of reform under the Croke Park Agreement has to be accelerated and this will be a key focus of Minister Howlin's work in the coming weeks and months.
"Figures show that in some instances the rate of leave has got out of sync with the norm in some areas and these will be looked at and will be reviewed."
Cork County Council revealed yesterday that annual leave for its staff ranges from 25 to 36 days a year. They also get two extra days off on Christmas Eve and December 27.
A total of 17 of the 34 local authorities have now responded to questions about annual leave entitlements and extra 'privilege' days. These come on top of the nine public holidays to which workers are already entitled, and Good Friday, when employers traditionally give their staff the day off.
County managers are not the only employees to enjoy the maximum leave entitlements.
At Kerry County Council, 25 staff, as well as the county manager, get 40 days off.
Meanwhile, Kildare County Council said it had provided an incorrect figure in relation to senior management's entitlements. It said they get 34 days, plus three privilege days, Christmas Eve, a day at Christmas and a day for the Punchestown Races.