I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 95 together.
The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 came into operation on 1 January 2018 and gives effect to the provisions of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020. The Act provides for increases to the salaries of public servants on specified dates over the period of the Agreement. The relevant pay increases are applied to each increment point of a pay scale, as appropriate.
The provisions of the 2017 Act do not affect incremental progression, in the context of the provision of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme.
In relation to the payment of increments, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform does not have responsibility for the arrangements in place across the Public Service and these are the responsibility of individual public service employers as appropriate.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has responsibility for the arrangements relating to the payment of increments in the civil service.
These arrangements are set out in Circular 9/1987:- Increments. Paragraph 4 of Circular 9/1987 states that ‘An increment is an increase in pay for which provision is made in a pay scale. As a general rule increments are granted provided an officer’s service is satisfactory’. Paragraph 8 goes on to state that ‘Individual Departments bear the primary responsibility for ensuring that increments are granted only to officers whose attendance, performance and commitment throughout the year have been completely satisfactory’. There has been no change in this circular following the introduction of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme in 2014.
While the Increments circular itself has not changed, my Department has developed guidance aimed at supporting civil service employers in assessing the impact of sick absence on increments and other employment benefits. This guidance highlights the importance of proactively managing high levels or patterns of absence and reiterates the provisions of the Increments circular i.e. that an individual’s attendance can be taken into account in awarding an increment. The guidance is intended to assist employers in decision making and does not prescribe that an individual will automatically be ineligible for employment benefits and/or career opportunities, such as increments, because they have reached a particular level of absence.