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Senior council staff getting up to two months' holidays a year

Tim Caffrey: county manager gets 42 days leave

SENIOR staff in local authorities are enjoying up to two months' holidays a year, an Irish Independent investigation has revealed.

The eight-week annual leave entitlement is more than three weeks longer than private sector workers in senior roles.

It is also more than a week longer than the most senior civil servants in government departments are allowed.

The extent of the holiday entitlement has come to light for the first time as an IMF delegation arrives today to assess whether targets are being reached under the €85bn bailout deal.

The IMF has warned that public sector pay is under threat if reforms under the Croke Park deal -- which include a review of leave entitlements -- are not delivered this year.

The investigation reveals that annual leave for city and county council managers and senior officials varies from 32 to 42 days.


These figures do not include the normal public holidays, which amount to another nine days off per year.

The holiday arrangements date back many years, and were decided by each local authority:

  • In Longford County Council, for instance, the county manager gets the maximum leave of 42 days a year. This is made up of 38 days' annual leave and four extra days at Christmas and Easter.
  • More than 25 staff at Kerry County Council, on salaries ranging from €64,426 to €106,900, also get a generous allowance of 37 days' leave and three extra days at Christmas, totalling 40 days.
  • Officials in Kildare County Council get up to 36 annual leave days a year, and three privilege days. This includes a day off to attend the Punchestown racing festival, a privilege currently under review.
  • In Monaghan, acting county manager David Fallon enjoys 37 days' annual leave and two privilege days at Christmas.

The Irish Independent asked each of the State's 34 local authorities to provide information on annual leave entitlements. Just 15 of the 34 replied, and all bar one granted senior officials at least 35 days' leave a year.

This is in sharp contrast to the private sector. An annual survey from employers' group IBEC of 306 companies shows that average leave granted to senior management was 25 days a year.

IBEC's Director of Industrial Relations and Human Resources Brendan McGinty criticised the entitlements in the local authorities, saying that reform was urgent.

"These are legacy issues that have never been properly tackled. It (reform) has been moving at a ridiculously slow pace," he said.

The investigation shows huge differences in the amount of holidays between local authorities. Leave entitlements range wildly from a minimum of 20 days for lower grades to between 32 days and 42 days at the other end of the scale.

Maximum leave in the civil service is well below the levels of most of the local authorities that revealed their entitlements. The highest civil service grades -- secretaries general -- get up to 33 days a year.

Kerry County Council, where managers enjoy one of the highest allocations of leave, refused to comment on the discrepancies in leave entitlements in different sections of state services.

"Neither the salary, terms and conditions of employment or the nature of the roles (ie county manager vis a vis secretary general) are comparable and we feel it would be inappropriate to comment on one aspect of the role in isolation," said a spokesperson.

Longford county manager Tim Caffrey, who enjoys the most holidays of the local authorities which responded to the survey, was not available for comment yesterday.

Irish Independent