Government policy over the last eight years has led to strong economic growth and a buoyant labour market. This is to be welcomed.
The Government has acknowledged that there are recruitment and retention difficulties in the Defence Forces. This is a feature of the highly competitive jobs market and is particularly impacting on specialist such as pilots. This is also being experienced by other military forces internationally.
The Government accepted the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on retention and recruitment in the Permanent Defence Force. It contains a broad range of recommendations to address recruitment and retention difficulties, some of which will provide immediate benefits to members of the Permanent Defence Force. Immediate measures include:
- a 10% increase in Military Service Allowance,
- the restoration to pre-Haddington Road levels of certain specific Defence Forces allowances,
- the restoration of premium rates for certain weekend duties,
- the return of an incentive scheme to address pilot retention issues in the Air Corps.
These measures, which will cost approximately €10 million per annum have been accepted by the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations and are in the course of being implemented.
In addition, the Report also provides for an examination of pay structures in the PDF and the identification of other retention measures, which will be progressed within the framework of the Public Service Stability Agreement and future public sector pay negotiations. The Report also contains a range of other recommendations aimed at improving work-force planning, recruitment and conditions of service in the PDF.
The Government has prepared a detailed implementation plan setting out timelines and objectives to deliver on the Pay Commission’s recommendations. This plan encompasses the immediate, short term and longer term actions recommended and it will take time to reap the full benefit of these measures. Under my direction, this work is being prioritised by civil and military management. It should also be noted that there are also a range of external variables which impact on recruitment and retention and which remain dynamic.
The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement. The increases due to date under the Agreement have been paid to members of the Defence Forces, the most recent being a 1.75% increase on annualised salaries from the 1 September 2019. Further increases in pay are scheduled in 2020.
I am confident that the implementation of the Government's Plan, in tandem with pay benefits being delivered by the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the most recent being a 1.5% increase on 1st September, will address the recruitment and retention challenges being experienced by the Permanent Defence Force.