I propose to take Questions Nos. 1386 to 1388, inclusive, 1434, 1449, 1503, 1530, 1547 and 1694 together.
Secondments within and across the civil and public service are a long-standing, valuable and useful practice. They encourage the sharing of experience and learning across the public sector and provide excellent development opportunities for civil and public servants to better serve the public interest.
My Department does not comment on specific contractual matters for individual employees but as of 25th April 2022, 14 of the Department’s employees in various grades from Clerical Officer through to Principal Officer are seconded to other organisations. The duration of these secondments varies between six months and five years, with some having provision for renewal if agreed between the Department, the host organisation and the secondee. These arrangements include the National Economic & Social Council, Department of Defence, Department of the Taoiseach, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Education, Central Statistics Office, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and an Garda Síochána. There are a variety of ways in which secondments out of the Department arise. Some arise from advertisements by host organisations, some (e.g. the secondment of Department of Health staff to the Permanent Representation in Brussels) are a matter for the Department to determine through its own internal processes. In some situations, arrangements will be made for individual employees with particular skills and experience to second to another Department by agreement between the two Departments concerned. Where an individual is seconded to another civil service organisation, in line with the secondment policy for the civil service they would normally transfer to the payroll of the host organisation for administrative efficiency reasons. Some specific schemes such as NEPT placements with the EU institutions and coordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs, would involve the Department covering the payroll and associated costs of an employee working temporarily with the EU. Secondees retain the term and conditions of their employment including pension rights. No person currently seconded out from the Department has formally relinquished their employment within the Department and would therefore be expected to return to a role in the Department when their secondment is complete. It is not unusual, however, for secondees to secure a promotion or move to new employment while seconded out which means they do not ultimately return. There are a large variety of arrangements, some long-standing, for those seconded into my Department. At the present time there are 53 people seconded into the Department of Health from other organisations. These can be on the basis of an advertisement of the available secondment to the civil or public service, in particular the health service, as appropriate. In some cases they arise from long-standing arrangements (e.g. with the Attorney General’s Office and the Central Statistics Office) for the placement of staff with the Department based on specific required expertise, or where specific health service employees are seconded in to work with the Department on particular projects. Secondees into the Department are from a range of organisations including the Departments of Finance, Justice, Communications, Climate Action & Environment and Transport; other civil service organisations including the Central Statistics Office, Office of the Attorney General, the Revenue Commissioners, Office of the Information Commissioner, the Courts Service, the National Shared Services Office and the Office of Government Procurement; various bodies under the aegis of the Department including the HSE, various section 38 bodies funded by the HSE, a number of health sector regulatory bodies and other public sector bodies such as Tusla. For those seconded in, payment arrangements generally involve a recoupment by the Department of the pay and pension costs involved to the parent organisation or in respect of the civil service, by the transfer of the individual to the Department’s payroll. In some cases, where a specific project requires the individual to work closely with the Department’s staff to advance a particular policy on a partnership basis, no recoupment to the parent organisation is being made.
I have asked the HSE to collate the information and respond directly to the Deputy in relation to its own employees.