Tuesday 12 December 2017

Leave to be curbed in public sector reform plans

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

PUBLIC sector perks, including annual leave and so-called privilege days, are expected to be curbed as part of government reforms to be outlined this week.

The coalition will also sign off on plans today to cut 25,000 public sector workers and reduce the number of quangos by at least 50.

The coalition agreed to cut public sector numbers by between 18,000 to 21,000 by 2014 and another 4,000 jobs by 2015.

The Government is under pressure from the EU-IMF to deliver further reforms to generate greater savings in the public sector.

The Cabinet held a special meeting yesterday to consider its plans to reform the public sector.

The public service reform plans to be published on Thursday will cover the coalition's proposals for the next four years.

The Government is looking at scrapping more than 106 state agencies, in addition to the 30 that are currently being rationalised, but the final figure will be around 50.

A range of State bodies, boards and agencies will be abolished, merged or brought back into their home department. Reform of the public sector is partially constrained by the Croke Park agreement, negotiated by the previous government.

However, the agreement does provide enough scope for the coalition to bring in reforms of work practices and the operation of elements of the public sector.

Public Sector Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has signalled he will tackle leave arrangements for staff in the public service.

Mr Howlin has promised to standardise annual leave and working time arrangements, and to address traditional entitlements. The Government has yet to spell out its plans for minimum and maximum numbers of days off.

But the move by Mr Howlin comes in the wake of controversy over leave for county managers, after the Irish Independent revealed some have up to 42 days each year.

The proposals will also emerge following the failure to scrap traditional privilege days off for civil servants.

Earlier this year, Mr Howlin expressed his disappointment after an arbitration board rejected the Government's plans to scrap the two privilege days. The perk goes back to before the foundation of the State.

Mr Howlin's efforts to standardise annual leave, working hours and pay across the public sector have hit a brick wall in recent months.

Irish Independent

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