Staffing problems at Department of Jobs due to moratorium on recruitment

Lack of staff constrains ability of job creation agencies to do their work

The number of staff at the Department of Jobs has dropped from 1,075 at the end of 2008 to 783 by the middle of June this year. Photograph: Getty Images

The number of staff at the Department of Jobs has dropped from 1,075 at the end of 2008 to 783 by the middle of June this year. Photograph: Getty Images

Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 10:37

The Department of Jobs and Enterprise, and agencies under its control, are grappling with a serious staffing crisis due to the State’s moratorium on recruitment. It has “severely constrained” their ability to deal with important economic issues, according to internal documents obtained by The Irish Times.

In briefing notes prepared in anticipation of a change of minister in last month’s Cabinet reshuffle – released under a freedom of information request – the department warns it may be “obliged to force staff to exit” to meet a targeted reduction to 767 employees by the end of the year. The department did not answer when asked to clarify what it meant by “exit”.

The Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU) said compulsory redundancies are ruled out by the Haddington Road agreement, but suggested the department could forcibly redeploy staff in the public sector.

All parts of the civil service have been given targets to reduce staff under the Employment Control Framework (ECF). The Department of Jobs, which oversees job-creation agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, warned it will struggle to meet its target this year.

“If the department were to fail to meet its ECF target, we may have to consider using last-in-first-out to oblige staff to exit . . . unless some latitude were afforded to us [by the Department of Public Expenditure],” the note said.

 

Shedding staff

The number of staff at the Department of Jobs has dropped from 1,075 at the end of 2008 to 783 by the middle of June this year. It must shed a further 16 staff over the next few months to meet ECF targets.

 

The note said retirements and staff voluntarily redeploying in the public service may see it get “close” to its target.

The document also warned that “there are significant pressure points developing across the department and some downsized agencies”. It highlighted acute shortages in employment rights bodies, the Companies Registration Office, and its Intellectual Property Unit.

In addition to those shortages, it warned it is running out of staffing capacity to deal with fresh issues as they emerge: “For example, the department redeployed six staff to work in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to assist in the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank.”

The agencies under its control, which employed 2,156 staff at the end of 2010, must meet an ECF target of 1,653 by the end of this year. It said some agencies can swallow no more cuts “if they are to deliver their mandates”: these include the Competition Authority and the Health and Safety Authority.

So, it said, the biggest burden in staff cuts this year would have to fall on Enterprise Ireland.

In a statement last night, the department said it has “had to do more with less to achieve its objectives in the face of seriously reduced resources”.