Wednesday 1 March 2017

FAS giving pay hikes without assessing staff work

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

FAS staff are getting pay increases without being assessed to see if they are meeting performance targets.

The training agency has failed to introduce a formal system to tackle underperforming staff, although payment of the salary scale increases is supposed to be linked to how they rate.

Some state agencies have set up the system -- known as PMDS (Performance Management and Development System) to punish slack workers by refusing them pay increments or promotion.

But a new report on public-service reform reveals the system has not been implemented at the training agency.

The Croke Park deal committed all state agencies to bring in "robust performance management schemes" where they are not already in place, and gave Fas as an example.

Under the system, managers are responsible for rating staff performance on a scale of one to five in annual reviews. Low scores mean they can be refused pay increments or promotion.

The PMDS was introduced in the civil service 11 years ago, but is still not fully rolled out.

It has come under intense scrutiny due to commitments in the Croke Park agreement, the €85bn bailout deal and the Programme for Government to improve public services and value for taxpayers' money.

A report on progress under the Croke Park agreement in the six months to the end of September says agencies including Teagasc have made progress on PMDS, but it has "yet to be introduced" at Fas.

Significant steps in enforcing it were also reported in sections of the civil service in a separate progress report.

It says the Attorney General's office is 100pc compliant with the system, while uptake at the Department of Defence is 97pc.

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government is 82pc compliant, while the rate at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stands at 78pc.

The report says workshops on dealing with underperformance have begun at the Office of Public Works.

Fas said a new performance management system would be developed when the agency was rebranded as SOLAS by mid-2012. "Fas has an existing internal staff development system," said a spokeswoman.

Admitted

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has admitted there are "serious deficiencies" in the PMDS system.

It has promised to improve this after revealing that 31pc of departmental staff did not participate in the system last year.

This was because managers did not bother to evaluate their employees. A spokesperson for the department said a series of reviews and surveys last year and early this year revealed many shortcomings.

As well as the failure of a large section of the civil service to participate, the ratings given to staff were shown to be too high, which meant most civil servants qualified for pay increments.

Just 9pc of 17,728 civil servants who were assessed got the lowest score of one, classified as "unacceptable".

In addition, public service unions have raised concerns that those at the top of the pay scale were not being rated.

Irish Independent

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