Major changes proposed for Garda pay arrangements

Government suggests reform in order to facilitate rosters and cut overtime spending

The Department of Justice has proposed fundamental reform of existing Garda pay arrangements in a bid to facilitate more flexible rosters and cut overtime spending. File photograph:  Collins Photos

The Department of Justice has proposed fundamental reform of existing Garda pay arrangements in a bid to facilitate more flexible rosters and cut overtime spending. File photograph: Collins Photos

 

The Department of Justice has proposed fundamental reform of existing Garda pay arrangements in a bid to facilitate more flexible rosters and cut overtime spending.

The department is heading for a confrontation with Garda representative bodies as it is argues that an upcoming review of pay and conditions should not cost the exchequer any more money and should be “cost neutral”.

Representative bodies had hoped the review would recommend significant pay rises.

The department proposals were set out in a confidential submission made in recent weeks to a review of An Garda Síochána, originally established under the former Haddington Road agreement.

The department suggested moving away from a system of allowances paid to gardaí for working unsocial hours at weekends and night time.

It instead proposed that these be incorporated in an all-embracing single “shift” payment.

Other allowances

It has also proposed a rationalisation of nearly 50 other allowances paid to gardaí. Some would be bought out, some phased out and others retained.

The possibility of non-rostered allowances being wrapped up or replaced by the proposed shift payment should also be explored, it suggested.

Garda organisations had sought pay increases as part of this review but the department said the review was “confined to the existing quantum of resources available to the organisation and any proposals must be cost neutral overall”.

The department also said the system of overtime payments should remain in place as it represented the “optimal method for deployment of appropriate resources”.

The system of annualised hours, which is in place in the Irish Prison Service, was “not suitable” for implementation within the Garda, it said.

According to the submission, in 2014 the total Garda remuneration bill was just under €800 million: 71 per cent was in salaries, 24.5 per cent in allowances, and 4.5 per cent in overtime.

“Given that Garda and public sector salaries generally are settled centrally and that overtime is both operationally driven and budget driven, the key issue for consideration is allowances,” the Department of Justice said.

Allowances bill

“The rationale for these allowances is clear, however, they impose significant constraints on roster design which in turn limits the capacity of Garda management to deploy resources to match predicted demand subject to compliance with the European working time directive.”

It proposed that “the benefits (or otherwise) of replacing the unsocial hours model of compensation for shift work with a shift pay mechanism be explored”.

Meanwhile, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has criticised the Government over Garda remuneration at its annual conference in Westport.

Association president Tim Galvin, in remarks addressed to the Minister for Justice, said his members were “angry and frustrated” at the lack of progress on reviewing Garda remuneration under the Haddington Road deal.

The Irish Times understands that a mooted protest by Garda members outside the Dáil over pay on the first day of a new government would involve members in uniform.

It would be the first time gardaí have staged any form of protest in their uniforms.