The Government has acknowledged that there are recruitment and retention issues in the Defence Forces that must be addressed. It is a fact that members of the Permanent Defence Force, PDF, are being attracted to jobs elsewhere in a buoyant labour market. In light of the particular challenges faced by the defence sector, the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of examination and analysis of underlying difficulties in recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces.
The commission’s report, which has been accepted by the Government, contains a broad range of recommendations that will provide immediate benefits to members of the PDF, as well as initiatives that can lead to further improvements. These include a 10% increase in military service allowance, the restoration to pre-Haddington Road agreement levels of certain specific Defence Forces allowances and the return of an incentive scheme to address pilot retention issues in the Air Corps. These measures will be implemented swiftly on confirmation of acceptance by the PDF representative associations. Any suggestion that these measures are only worth 96 cent per day is disingenuous and a soundbite that has been used to misinform people.
The report also contains a range of recommendations aimed at improving workforce planning, recruitment and conditions of service.
The Government has prepared a detailed implementation plan setting out timelines and objectives, which indicates its commitment to deliver on the recommendations of the pay commission. The plan also provides for an examination of core pay in the Permanent Defence Force and identifies further retention measures within the context of the public service stability agreement and future public sector pay negotiations. Work on implementing the plan is under way and, under my direction, being prioritised by civil and military management.
I am confident that the implementation of the recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission, in tandem with pay benefits being delivered under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 with the most recent being a 1.5% increase on 1 September, will help to ameliorate the recruitment and retention challenges being experienced by the Permanent Defence Force.