Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Ceisteanna (9)

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

9. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the implementation of the individual actions contained in the high-level Strengthening Our Defence Forces report; the timelines for full implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11781/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Government’s high level plan “Strengthening Our Defence Forces – Phase 1” sets out a range of actions to be undertaken in the short-medium and longer term. The plan is complemented by a range of other HR actions which were already underway.

The immediate pay measures set out in the plan i.e. an increase in Military Service Allowance, the reversal of 10% cuts to allowances and the restoration of weekend premium rates for overtime were implemented immediately upon their acceptance by the PDF Representative Associations. A service commitment scheme for pilots was also re-introduced, with very positive uptake.

The remaining projects in the plan contain both pay and non-pay measures.

The pay related projects include a review of pay structures, consideration of incentivised long service arrangements and a review of technical pay (grade 2-6) arrangements.

The review of pay structures is a medium term project being led by DPER . Some initial preliminary work has commenced on this project within my Department, however, the main body of work will be done as part of a wider review of public sector pay arrangements. The Defence Forces Representative Associations have submitted views regarding pay and allowances and these will be fully considered.

In relation to the project to consider incentivised long service arrangements, a report has been prepared on this matter which will be used to inform future pay negotiations. In relation to the review of technical pay, this has been undertaken in two phases and the reports produced are under consideration.

The Covid-19 emergency has impacted project timeframes for the remaining non-pay related projects. For some projects resources were necessarily reassigned to matters relating to the COVID-19 response and where other essential work necessarily took priority. However at this point work on all of the outstanding projects either remains ongoing or has recently re-started and projects are being progressed as quickly as is possible in the circumstances.

The table below summarises the current status for each of the 15 projects included in the plan:

Project

Current Status

V1

Review of Pay Structures - Led by DPER

Some initial preliminary work commenced within DoD. Main body of work to be done as part of a wider review of public sector pay arrangements. Timeframe for this wider review not confirmed at present.

V2, V3,V4

Increase in MRA, Restoration of allowances Restoration of weekend premium rates

Complete

R1

Restore Pilot Service Commitment Scheme

Complete

R2

Tech 2 – 6 arrangements

2 reports on the Review of Technical Pay Groups 2-6 arrangements remain under consideration.

R3

Incentivised long service arrangements

Report was submitted to Project Sponsors [DPER and DoD] in October 2019. The report is due to be used to inform future pay negotiations.

R4

Barriers to extended participation in the PDF

This Project was divided into two phases. The first phase, which focuses on reviewing mandatory retirement ages for Officers is nearing completion. The second phase, which will look at enlisted contracts has just been initiated. However, it was agreed with PDFORRA that enlisted privates and corporals who had reached 21 years’ service, could remain in service until they reach age 50 until end 2022. Sergeants are also permitted to serve beyond 50 until that timeframe. These measures mean that the review can take place in an extended timeframe.

R5

Bespoke management training for leaders and managers

The final draft of this Report is currently being reviewed and it is hoped to finalise this project in the near future.

R6

Professional Military Education (PME) Strategy

First draft of the PME Strategy is nearing completion. It is anticipated that the strategy will be finalised during Q3 2020.

R7

Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

First draft of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is under consideration by the DF Mental Health and Wellbeing Working Group (DFMHWWG). This project is on target for completion in August 2020.

R8

Non-Pay Retention Measures in the PDF

Phase 1 report (Review of Current Retention Measures) and Phase 2 report (Review of Retention Measures in other PDFs) are completed. Phase 3 Report (Proposed Further Non-pay Retention Measures PDF) was nearing completion in early March, however, the project team was temporarily reassigned to Covid-19 work. Work has now recommenced and the Phase 3 Report is currently being reviewed in light of any issues that arose due to Covid-19.

R9

Additional specialist posts for high turnover/long lead in appts

This project has required detailed consideration of turnover, specialist training and associated personnel requirements in specialist areas and was taking longer than originally planned. In addition, a number of the senior project team members were reassigned/diverted to deal with COVID-19 related work and as a consequence this project was temporarily suspended. Work has now re-commenced on the project, albeit at a slower pace than prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

A1

Recruitments methods for PDF

Project team meetings were temporarily suspended due to challenges arising in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, however the external recruitment specialist leading the review, Mr Padraig Love, has continued to work on the project and the project is well advanced.

A2

Workforce Planning

Project A2 is being progressed with the assistance of an independent HR specialist. The timeframe set out for the development of an integrated workforce plan was overly ambitious when requirements were analysed in more detail, particularly given the range of specialisms in the Defence Forces and recruitment and training processes. In this context, there is significant overlap and interdependencies with other projects. When completed, this important project will better inform recruitment and retention and broader HR policy.