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Friday 15 December 2017

Just 55 of 37,000 civil servants have lost their jobs in the past decade

Secretary General at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Secretary General at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne Marie Walsh

Just 55 of the country's 37,146 civil servants have lost their jobs since the end of the boom years, new figures reveal.

Data supplied by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform reveals that just 0.1pc of the Government's workforce was dismissed since 2007, although the numbers accelerated in recent years.

The department said it could not say how many of these were sacked because of underperformance "for reasons of data protection".

A spokesperson told the Irish Independent the figures related to dismissals for a range of reasons including performance-related issues and misconduct.

Successive ministers have committed to tackle public servants who do a bad job. Last year, the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Robert Watt admitted there was a problem with underperformers and vowed to ensure they could be sacked more easily.

However, it is not possible to assess the outcome of this as the department has not yet compiled these figures for 2015 or 2016.

The latest available data shows two people lost their jobs in 2007, three in 2008, six in 2009 and five in 2010 and 2011. A further 11 were sacked in 2012, 14 the following year and 9 in 2014 - the latest year for which the figures are available.

Of the 55 dismissed, 30 resigned before they were told they were being let go.

Rating

A department spokesperson said a new performance management system had been rolled out and a disciplinary code introduced in September last year. A two-point rating system was introduced that deems performance as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

He said a new policy to manage underperformance was introduced in January this year.

"The new rating system aims to support a greater focus on the developmental aspect of the management of performance and encourage a focus on the 'conversation' rather than the rating," he said.

The data also shows that there were 106 disciplinary cases in 2013, and 96 in 2014.

Of the cases in 2014, 36 got verbal warnings, 11 got a first written warning, and nine a final written warning. In more than three cases other sanctions were taken which may have involved deferring increments or withdrawing allowances.

The department said the data did not represent all cases where the action taken involved verbal and written warnings. This is because all civil service organisations do not hold central records of these cases.

Separately, the issue of public servants' productivity may take centre stage at talks on a new public sector pay deal. A recent Pay Commission report said that wage increases must be contingent on productivity, while the National Competitiveness Council has warned it is vital this is properly measured.

The department said there was no one-size-fits-all measure for productivity. A spokesperson said each sector was responsible for measuring productivity in its area but a performance report for the civil service last year detailed the "key outputs" among a diverse range of bodies.

Irish Independent

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