Similarly to other sectors in the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced as one of the measures to assist in stabilising national finances during the financial crisis, during which the Deputy was a member of the Government. The recovery in the economy has provided the fiscal resources to provide for a fair and sustainable recovery in public service pay scales. Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and all other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.
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 under the agreement have been paid to members of the Defence Forces, the most recent being a 1.75% increase on annualised salaries from 1 September 2019. Further increases in pay are scheduled in 2020. By the end of the current public service pay agreement, the pay scales of all public servants, including members of the Defence Forces, earning under €70,000 per annum will be restored to pre-financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled in the agreement.
In light of the particular challenges faced by the defence sector, the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission to undertake a comprehensive 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 Permanent Defence Force, 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 Permanent Defence Force representative associations.
The Government has prepared a detailed plan for the implementation of the recommendations in the Public Service Pay Commission's report. The measures are aimed at improving workforce planning, recruitment, retention and conditions of service. The plan also provides for an examination of core pay in the Permanent Defence Force within the context of the public service stability agreement and future public sector pay negotiations, and the completion and implementation of actions related to a review of technical pay arrangements for grades 2 to 6. The plan also outlines timelines and objectives, indicating the commitment to deliver on the pay commission’s recommendations.
The Government is committed to ensuring that the pay and conditions of all members of the public service are commensurate with their skill levels and the work undertaken.