Higher civil servants get 33 days off in year
CIVIL SERVANTS get up to a week's more annual leave than private sector workers, the Department of Finance said last night.
The department has revealed that some grades are entitled to at least seven days more each year than their counterparts in the private sector.
It said executive officers and higher executive officers' entitlements ranged from 21 days' leave to 30 days, after 10 years' service, as well as two privilege days at Easter and Christmas.
In contrast, it said their equivalents' leave entitlements in the private sector ranged between 23 and 25 days.
The department also said higher principal officer grades enjoyed 33 days off each year, made up of 31 days' leave and two privilege days.
But 80pc of employees on equivalent salaries in the private sector got 29 days or less, it said.
Department officials highlighted the public servants' better entitlements in a submission -- seen by the Irish Independent -- to an arbitration body this week.
The submission was made in a bid to cut privilege days across the civil service -- one of the most high profile reforms promised under the Croke Park deal -- to generate savings of €4.6m.
But the proposals were thrown out.
"Civil servants generally receive more favourable annual leave allowances than similar positions in the private sector," the department concluded in its submission.
"It is the view of the official side that 30 to 31 days' annual leave is a generous leave allowance."
The arbitration board found that cuts to privilege days could not be brought in on a sector-by-sector basis, but had to be introduced across the public sector at once.
As a result, civil servants will hold on to the extra days. They have now been converted into two extra days' leave.
Public Sector Reform Minister Brendan Howlin yesterday described privilege days as an "anachronism" and insisted reforming them was "still on the agenda".
However, the Labour Party minister was unable to say how he planned to do this or whether he would put forward fresh proposals on the issue.
He also refused to say whether he believed senior Finance Department officials who came up with the plan to cut privilege days should lead by example and give up their own.
"I support the notion that these privilege days are an anachronism and they are still on my agenda," Mr Howlin pointed out.
"It can't be done sectorally. I want to move on this as quickly as possible but I'm not looking for confrontation. . . and hope we can find a way that is accepted.
"It's disappointing as one would have expected that these are relatively low-hanging fruit and there could have been positive engagement."
Proposals to reform privilege days in the local government and health sectors have also been put forward by management, but are being opposed by unions.