Thursday 18 January 2018

Unions and managers both got a result at Croke Park

Public sector bosses have an unlikely ally as the row over leave entitlement rumbles on, writes Celia Larkin

Celia Larkin

Eight working weeks, what would an unemployed person give for eight weeks' work? Eight weeks of somewhere to go each morning, with the self-respect that generates. Eight weeks of not having to queue for the dole. Eight weeks of freedom from dread.

The notion that someone can clock up 40 days annual leave, or more, is unbelievable in the current financial climate. We hear of staff shortages in the public service. We hear of massive workloads. But we heard precious little of leave entitlement until recently. Now we know that some local authority staff have an astonishing level of entitlement to leave. Days off to attend race meetings. Compensatory leave days for church holidays. Extra privilege days at Christmas and Easter. Adding up, in some cases, to two paid holiday months.

Like any can of worms, once it's opened you never know what's going to come out. It seems the practice is not confined to local authorities alone. Some staff within the HSE and non-teaching staff in the VEC also have the benefit of substantial annual leave. It is a little unfair to single out individuals, as happened this week -- though it had one good effect: yesterday county and city managers announced a voluntary reduction in annual leave to 32 days. But the reality is that some senior staff within local authorities have been benefitting from annual leave entitlements that are well in excess of those enjoyed in the private sector.

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