Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (194)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

194. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of employing ten new school secretaries. [53022/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of clerical officers and caretakers in schools.  The schemes were withdrawn completely in 2008.  These schemes have been superseded by the capitation grant schemes.  The current grant scheme was agreed in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, published in 1991. 

The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools now receive assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services under these grant schemes.  It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the grant funding for caretaking or secretarial purposes, any staff taken on to support those functions are employees of individual schools.  Specific responsibility for terms of employment rests with the school.

On foot of a Chairman’s Note to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, my Department engaged with the Unions representing school secretaries and caretakers, including through an independent arbitration process in 2015. The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for staff and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 be phased in over that period.  This arbitration agreement covers the period up to 31 December 2019. 

The arbitration agreement was designed to be of greatest benefit to lower-paid secretaries and caretakers. For example, a secretary or caretaker who was paid the then minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in 2015 prior to the arbitration has from 1 January 2019, been paid €13 per hour which is a 50% increase in that individual’s hourly pay.

The increases recommended by the Arbitrator are binding and must be applied by all schools that employ staff to whom the Arbitrator’s recommendation applies.   My Department receives informal correspondence by telephone in respect of grant-funded secretary and caretaker circulars, as regularly occurs with the publication of pay circulars.  Advice is provided on the implementation of the circular and the appropriate steps to take.  Secretaries and Caretakers who have queries regarding the application of the circular should raise queries directly with their individual employer/Board of Management. 

In addition, the recent survey of Secretaries and Caretakers has identified some schools that are non-compliant with the provisions of the 2015 Arbitration Agreement, and my Department will be making contact with these schools to remind them of their obligations under the agreement, as implemented through various circulars. The links below will bring you to the most recent circulars in respect of the pay increases under the 2015 Arbitration Agreement.

The circulars in respect of pay for secretaries and caretakers paid by grant-funding and for those paid on a scale are set out in the circulars below:

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0066_2019.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0067_2019.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0074_2019.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0075_2019.pdf