Military life places unique demands on individuals and it is necessary that Defence Forces personnel are prepared to meet the challenges of all military operations. To this end, it is vital the age and health profile of personnel be such as to ensure that operational capability and effectiveness are not compromised in any way.
The age and fitness profile of the Permanent Defence Force was an issue of serious concern during the 1990's and was the subject of severe criticism in a series of external reports. One of the key areas identified for urgent action was the development of a manpower policy with an emphasis on lowering the age profile of Permanent Defence Force personnel. As a result, new terms and conditions were introduced for personnel enlisting after 1 January 1994 and new contracts for enlisted personnel were for a period of five years’ service. Since that time, the maximum period of service has been extended out to twenty-one years for line Privates and Corporals. Following an adjudication Corporals and Privates in receipt of Tech Pay Group 3 or higher may be extended to age 50 subject to meeting certain criteria for continuance in service.
Earlier this year, following further discussions with PDFORRA and in light of the adjudication, agreement was reached with PDFORRA that all Privates and Corporals recruited post 1994, will be allowed to continue in service to 31 December 2022 (or until they reach the age of 50), provided these personnel meet certain criteria during this interim period, including medical grades and fitness tests. This is to allow for a review of upper age limits for Post 94 Privates, Corporals and Sergeants as provided for in the White Paper on Defence.
Furthermore, as I announced at the PDFORRA, Annual Delegate Conference (ADC) held on 2 October 2019, officials from my Department have entered into discussions with PDFORRA with a view to also allowing post 1994 Sergeants continue in service to the same date, subject to their meeting agreed criteria in the interim period.
The actions set out in the implementation plan for the report of the Public Service Pay Commission on recruitment and retention in the Permanent Defence Force also include the examination of issues relevant to age and duration of contracts.