As I have reiterated on a number of occasions, this Government is committed to developing a leaner, more efficient Public Service. To this end, we agreed on 2 October 2012 to accelerate the reduction in Public Service numbers in order to achieve the previous end 2015 target of 282,500 by end 2014 instead.
Greater efficiencies in the way the Public Service is going about its business means that some posts have been identified by Departments as surplus. Where surplus staff cannot be redeployed, Voluntary Redundancy can now be used.
Initially Voluntary Redundancy will be rolled out in three areas – the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and specific parts of the Health and Education Sectors. These Departments estimate that there will be scope to effect about 2,000 exits from these areas over time, mainly from back office and support areas and management and administrative grades. The availability of Voluntary Redundancy for these areas will be useful in supporting the achievement of organisational reforms and restructuring. Obviously, as Voluntary Redundancy is being targeted at areas with identified staff surpluses, there will not be replacement of the departing staff.
It is proposed to proceed with these schemes as soon as possible. Each of the relevant Departments is liaising with my Department to ensure roll out of Voluntary Redundancy as soon as the necessary plans have been have been finalised and arrangements made. The Scheme may be rolled out to other areas of the Public Service if deemed appropriate.
I would stress that there will be no automatic right to redundancy and all applications will be subject to ongoing business needs and service provision priorities.
The terms of the Scheme will be as agreed between my Department and the Public Services Committee of ICTU which came into effect on 1 June last year. A copy of the Collective Agreement is set out.
Collective Agreement: Redundancy Payments to Public Servants
Under the Public Service Agreement 2010 – 2014 the parties have agreed that Public Service numbers will be reduced in accordance with Government policy on public service numbers, as implemented through Employment Control Frameworks. To that end, the Agreement states (paragraph 1.5) that, where the circumstances require it, the Government may offer voluntary mechanisms to exit the public service, whether generally or in specific sectors, bodies, locations or services.
The Agreement includes a commitment (paragraph 1.6) by public service management that compulsory redundancy will not apply within the Public Service; however this is subject to some key qualifications, namely that it is subject to compliance with the terms of the Agreement, in particular on flexibility on redeployment. There is a saver for circumstances “where existing exit mechanisms apply”. There are established practices for making public servants redundant in appropriate circumstances, on the expiry of employment contracts or where redundancy terms have been agreed or generally applied1.
It has been agreed on behalf of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Public Services Committee of ICTU that the following will apply, with effect from 1 June 2012, on the redundancy of a public servant as defined under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009 – 20112 or group or class of public servants3:
- Any ex gratia payment will amount to no more than 3 weeks pay per year of service, subject to the total statutory redundancy and ex gratia payment not exceeding either 2 years’ pay or one half of the salary payable to preserved pension age, whichever is less;
- In accordance with the provisions in the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 - 2007, public servants in employment for less than 2 years [104 weeks] are not eligible for a severance payment (statutory or ex gratia);
- Public servants will be advised in writing prior to acceptance of the ex gratia payment that s/he will not be eligible for re-employment in the public service by any public service body (as defined by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts 2009 – 2011) for a period of two years from termination of the employment. Thereafter the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will be required prior to re-employment. This declaration will also include an authorisation that their information (PPS number and details) can be used by their employer or any other public service body for the purposes of monitoring compliance with this provision.
1 The implementation Body established under the Agreement has noted [17 February 2012] that it was not intended that these practices would be superseded by the Agreement.
2 Including public servants employed for a fixed term, meeting the criteria for redundancy under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2007 and to whom a redundancy payment is required to be paid in accordance with the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work Act) 2003.
3 A public service employer may seek the sanction of its parent Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to make a collective agreement with a body representing relevant employees that varies some or all of the terms of this agreement. The redundancy arrangements specified under DES Circular 0058/2006 are unaffected by this agreement.
This collective agreement will be reviewed from time to time in light of the prevailing economic and fiscal conditions.