Friday 28 July 2017

Deal means 80 FAS staff will keep holiday perk

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

Around 80 FAS staff will hold on to a generous perk that means they get up to 44 extra days off a year to prepare for retirement.

But most workers at the troubled training agency are set to lose the controversial entitlement, although they will get extra holidays as compensation.

The Labour Court has issued new proposals to end a row between the state-run agency and unions over the unusual decades-old work practice.

However, the plans affect staff who are not yet enjoying the entitlement that is given in each of the two years before retirement.

Those who are already enjoying the special leave will continue to get it. Around 80 staff out of the total workforce of around 1,900 currently get pre-retirement leave.

In addition, those who had applied for the leave prior to the court decision will also get it, but it is unclear how many staff are in this position.

They get up to 44 days off for each of the two years before they retire, depending on their length of service, on top of their regular annual leave of up to 26 days a year. This means they could take up to 70 days off per year for each of the two years before they retire depending on how long they have worked for the agency.

Under the court proposals, the entitlement will be axed for the majority of staff.

However, staff with 25 years service or more will get compensation of five extra days' holidays over the next 24 months.

Those with over 10 years service but less than 25 years will get three days and those who have worked there for less than 10 years will get two days off.

This is an improvement of about one extra day for all staff compared with a previous offer.

SIPTU branch organiser Brendan O'Brien last night said staff would now ballot on the recommendation.

Ruling

A spokeswoman for FAS said that the organisation accepted the court ruling.

The Irish Independent revealed last August that a row erupted after the agency tried to scrap the perk without agreement last July. It brought the leave entitlement back just weeks later and entered new talks with unions.

The dispute ended up in the Labour Court.

SIPTU rejected a previous attempt by FAS to buy out the perk, because it said it was not a reasonable offer.

There is no scheme in existence in the rest of the public sector that compares with the provisions on offer at FAS.

FAS has estimated that the number of people on pre-retirement leave will be down to 48 by February next year.

Irish Independent

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