Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 74.

Haddington Road Agreement Implementation

Questions (83)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

83. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which revised rostering of working hours throughout the public service has managed to reduce costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23931/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The provisions set out in the Haddington Road Agreement will help to deliver an unprecedented increase in productivity across the Public Service, through the provision of almost 15 million additional working hours annually and a range of other efficiency and reform measures. While the application of these additional hours varies by sector, depending on local patterns in the demand for services and the scale of ongoing reductions in staff numbers, the additional hours will help to deliver long term and sustainable increases in productivity, while also helping public service management to maintain and indeed improve service delivery against the backdrop of decreasing staff numbers. The potential benefits of the additional hours are significant. The additional hours will deliver approximately €430 million, a significant proportion of the €1 billion savings target. These cash savings will be delivered through reducing the requirement for overtime and agency payments; facilitate reductions in staff numbers and the associated annual paybill cost over the course of the Agreement; and also allow for amendments to the Supervision and Substitution payments in the Education sector.

It is essential that public service management continually evaluate new and innovative ways for utlilising the additional hours, including revised rostering arrangements, to ensure that the full potential of this agreement is realised.

Public Sector Staff Sick Leave

Questions (84)

Clare Daly

Question:

84. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will withdraw the provision which counts pregnancy related sick leave as sick leave in the public service, as this is a discriminatory measure against women workers. [23942/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The new Public Service Sick Leave Scheme came into effect from 31 March 2014 for the generality of the Public Service. The Scheme is set out in the Public Service Management (Sick Leave) Regulations S.I. 124 of 2014 and, generally, applies to all public servants. The new Sick Leave Scheme was introduced, following the enactment of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments)(Amendment) Act 2013 by the Oireachtas, to reduce the very high and unsustainable cost of sick leave in the public service.  The new provisions allow staff access to the following paid sick leave:

- maximum of 92 days on full pay in a rolling one year period;

- followed by a maximum of 91 days on half pay in a rolling one year period;

- subject to a maximum of 183 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period.

Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration (TRR - previously Pension Rate of Pay) can be granted where an individual has exhausted the limits for sick pay provided there is  a realistic prospect of that person returning to work. The maximum period for which TRR can be paid is 547 days under ordinary sick leave arrangements. In addition, in order to provide support for public service employees the new Critical Illness Protocol (CIP) was put in place as part the scheme. This allows an employee, who suffers a critical illness or serious physical injury, access to 12 months of paid sick leave on the same basis as the previous sick leave scheme (i.e. 183 days on full pay in a rolling one year period, followed by 182 days on half pay subject to a maximum of 365 days in a rolling four year period).  In such cases TRR is for also available for 12 months with a further possibility of 2 years depending on the severity of the illness.

The need to protect women during pregnancy and ensure that they are not discriminated against was reflected in the design of the new sick leave scheme.  In that context, the public service continues to operate its provisions for pregnancy-related illness in accordance with a European Court of Justice ruling (ref: McKenna case C-191/03) in relation to the application of sick leave provisions to staff who are absent on pregnancy-related sick leave. This means that a female employee will not be taken off pay while on pregnancy related sick leave. In addition, the CIP provides specifically for pregnancy-related illness. Where a pregnancy related illness is serious it will also be covered by the CIP.  One of the criteria for awarding of CIP more generally is 2 consecutive weeks of hospitalisation, however, this requirement is reduced to two days for pregnancy related illness in accordance with Labour Court recommendation (ref: LCR 20667). Moreover, the provision, which allows management discretion to award CIP, can be used where a woman is very unwell requiring extended sick leave in excess of that available under standard sick leave arrangements due to pregnancy-related illness. The inclusion of this provision enables management within organisations, on the basis of medical evidence, to provide the additional support available under the CIP where an employee may require access to extended sick leave over and above the normal arrangements on account of pregnancy-related illness. Pregnancy related illnesses are also discounted for consideration of promotion and higher duty allowances.

Public Service Contracts

Questions (85)

Brendan Smith

Question:

85. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the Office of Public Works will finalise the awarding of a contract in respect of a project (details supplied); when this necessary work will be undertaken; the likely timeline for completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23957/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The pre-qualification of contractors stage of the tender process is nearing completion. It is expected to issue tender documents in the next few weeks to a shortlist of suitably qualified contractors and to appoint a main contractor by the end of July 2014. This is a complex project that will be carried out in phases to facilitate the continued operation of the school. Subject to a successful outcome to the tender process, it is anticipated that the first phase will commence in August / September this year and will be completed within three months. The remaining works, also taking three months to complete, will be commenced in July 2015.

Foreign Direct Investment

Questions (86)

Dara Calleary

Question:

86. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 345 of 27 May 2014, if he will specifically answer the question regarding a feasibility study for Castlebar; the terms of reference of that study; the precise date on which the study was sanctioned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23788/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I have been informed by IDA Ireland that as part of its ongoing operational management they have recently committed to undertake a review of the property offerings in Castlebar in regard to its suitability for marketing to FDI clients. This work has not yet commenced but as part of the process, the Property Division of IDA Ireland will firstly assess the potential of the current property stock available in Castlebar. Following this, they will examine whether this stock matches the expectations and demands from FDI companies and whether constructing any new capacity would be likely to make a difference to the site selection decisions of FDI companies. In this connection I should point out that under legislation, IDA Ireland is independent in the exercise of its property function.

The Action Plan for Jobs 2014 includes a commitment to develop a framework for a Regional Enterprise Strategy to better integrate the efforts of the enterprise development agencies and other regional stakeholders in supporting enterprises. My intention is that the framework will be developed on a pilot basis initially, focusing on the Midlands region, and involving the agencies under the remit of my own Department – Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices. The objective is to enhance synergies between the agencies and their client companies and build on the competitive strengths of the region to maximise the potential for job creation. The role which other public bodies in the region can play in working towards this objective will also be examined as the project develops. The aim is that this framework will serve as a model for other regions of the country.

2014 is the fifth and final year in IDA Ireland’s current strategy "Horizon 2020" which has been in place since 2010. A new strategy for the next five-year period 2015-2020 will have to be formulated during 2014. To assist in the task of formulating a new strategy and in order to ensure that Ireland can continue to compete globally for foreign direct investment, I have asked Forfás to undertake an in depth analysis of our FDI strategy, in light of a changing global environment. This analysis, which is currently a work in progress, will take account of factors such as key trends emerging in FDI best practice internationally, Ireland’s strengths in attracting FDI and the 2014 to 2020 Regional Aid guidelines, which will come into effect on 1 July 2014. The results of this analysis, along with the Regional Enterprise Framework will form the basis of IDA Irelands strategy for the next five-year period.

Regional Development

Questions (87)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

87. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he has taken to ensure that all areas of the country enjoy a growth in employment; the success of his strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23820/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Action Plan for Jobs is the Government's key policy instrument to assist job creation. Its aim is to support enterprises to create employment throughout the whole of the country and in all regions. The 2014 Action Plan for Jobs recognises that regions that support strong and dynamic enterprises are crucial to Ireland's return to overall economic growth. In this context, the Action Plan contains a number of measures to be taken in 2014 to support competitive regions. For example, this year, the IDA will commence building new advanced manufacturing facilities in Waterford and Athlone, and office space in Letterkenny, to help cater for FDI projects.

The Local Government Reform Act 2014 has introduced wide-ranging reforms to Local Government in Ireland and the reconfigured Regional Assemblies will be tasked with preparing regional Spatial and Economic Strategies which will ensure the coordination of economic and spatial development across the regions and enable Local Government to play a stronger role in economic development in general. As a core element of the Action Plan for Jobs, my Department has reformed the system for delivery of support to micro and small enterprises by dissolving the County and City Enterprise Boards and replacing them with Local Enterprise Offices within the Local Authority structure. This reform will help to make the operating environment for businesses more coherent, responsive and conducive to entrepreneurship at local level across the country. The Action Plan also includes a commitment to develop a framework for a Regional Enterprise Strategy to better integrate the efforts of the enterprise development agencies and other regional stakeholders in supporting enterprises. My intention is that the framework will be developed on a pilot basis initially, based on the Midlands region, and focusing, in particular, on co-ordinating the efforts of the agencies under the remit of my own Department – Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, as well as the new Local Enterprise Offices. The overarching objective of the framework is to enhance synergies between the agencies, their client companies and other key stakeholders to maximise the potential for job creation in the region. In addition, many actions under the Entrepreneurship pillar of the Action Plan for Jobs, such as Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Regional Feasibility Funds, will support enterprise development and job growth at regional level. The most recent employment data published by the Central Statistics Office show that employment has grown in most regions of the country, year-on-year. However, we must continue, through the Action Plan for Jobs process, to maximise the job creation potential of all regions.

State Properties

Questions (88)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

88. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will rationalise the ownership of industrial land and estates between agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23821/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

IDA Ireland and Shannon Development are the only two agencies under the remit of my Department who hold industrial property portfolios. Under legislation both agencies are independent in the exercise of their property function. Property solutions to companies who are clients of Enterprise Ireland are also provided by IDA Ireland. As part of the restructuring of Shannon Development, the enterprise support functions have transferred to IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. This will ensure the continuation of support to both FDI and indigenous enterprises in the region. In addition, IDA Ireland is in the process of purchasing lands in the National Technology Park in Limerick and the Raheen Business and Technology Park from Shannon Development. By bringing together the remaining property functions of a restructured Shannon Development with the Shannon Airport Authority under the umbrella of the new Shannon Group, the combination of the airport business with the adjoining industrial property portfolio can provide the region with the capacity to exploit sectoral opportunities and crucially those in the aviation sector.

In respect of IDA Ireland, the empirical results of international research has demonstrated that the availability of suitable property solutions is a key element in the location decision making process undertaken by prospective investors in determining where projects will locate. Most International development agencies with which IDA Ireland competes hold substantial stocks of such properties.

In recent years, IDA Ireland has taken the decision to rationalise its non-core land holdings in a number of locations throughout the country. Land holdings are initially offered to Local Authorities and recent examples of rationalisation of IDA Ireland non-core lands completed include the transfer of lands to Roscommon County Council, Donegal County Council, Wicklow County Council and South Dublin County Council. In addition, current transfers in legal process include Cork County Council, Leitrim County Council, Wexford County Council and discussions are on-going with Galway County Council, Sligo County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Kilkenny County Council. The Agency has explained that non-core lands which are not required by the Local Authorities are placed on the Open Market for disposal. IDA Ireland also markets non-core lands and properties directly to stakeholders including; OPW, HSE, Chambers of Commerce, An Post and other similar bodies through active engagement in sharing portfolio information with common objectives. IDA Ireland keeps its property portfolio under constant review and of course the matter will again be reviewed in the context of the work currently being undertaken on the preparation of a new strategy for the Agency from 2015 onwards.

Foreign Direct Investment

Questions (89)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

89. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons directly employed in FDI companies here; if he will provide information on the number of persons employed in service companies feeding into such companies on a regional basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23822/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the enterprise development agencies. I am informed by IDA Ireland that the number of people employed in their client companies in 2013 was 166,184. Every ten jobs in an IDA Ireland client company supports seven jobs in the wider economy. 2013 represented the fourth successive year of jobs growth in IDA Ireland client companies with the creation of over 7,000 net new jobs during the year.