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Lower-rank civil servants must take on new duties

LOWER-RANKING civil servants will be asked to take on their former managers' duties following an exodus of 10pc of the State's top officials.

A new reform plan for the civil service -- seen by the Irish Independent -- says government departments and state bodies must immediately reassign the workloads of former assistant principal officers and higher management grades to staff at "the lowest appropriate level".

The updated action plan for reforms under the Croke Park deal says there must be a "more effective" use of staffing resources due to reductions in the workforce.

These cuts in numbers have been achieved mainly due to the public sector recruitment ban.

According to the new plan, this reassignment of duties comes after the number of management grades at assistant principal grade and higher was slashed since 2008.

"A further reduction is planned over the period to 2014," it said.

The action plan, revised to reflect targets set in the Budget and IMF/EU bailout deal, says civil service numbers are due to fall to 34,600 by 2014.

The new plan will be debated at a high-level meeting between management and civil service unions today and is expected to be opposed by officials most likely to be hit with a greater burden of work.

They are grades just below the assistant principal grade.

The plan says officials in departments including Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Environment, Heritage and Local Government will be affected.

Staff in the departments of Social Protection, Health and Children, Education and Skills, the OPW and the Property Registration Authority will also be given the new responsibilities.

Sources at the Department of Finance said previously, a lot of the departing higher grades' duties had been taken up by higher, rather than lower grades.


"It would appear to me that duties that were previously done by assistant principals and higher grades will be re-allocated," they said. "People at lower grades will have to take on extra responsibility and duties formerly done by their bosses and there will be no 'acting up' allowances because this is about savings not extra cost."

The plan also reaffirms a previous commitment to review 'outdated' absence practices, including controversial 'privilege days', and the civil service policy on office closures by the end of next month.

It says public office opening hours will be extended or changed in the Departments of Social Protection, Foreign Affairs, Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Probation Service, to ensure better customer service.

It also aims to achieve a 10pc reduction in days lost due to sick leave by the end of this year.

Irish Independent