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Senior civil servants get 60% less than private sector counterparts – study

Higher public service staff call for faster pay restoration

Pay restoration: John Glennon, chairman, and Ciaran Rohan, general secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants. Photograph: John Mc Elroy

Management grades in the Civil Service are are receiving up to 60 per cent less than the total pay available to their equivalent counterparts in the private sector, a new report has claimed.

The study was carried out by the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and was commissioned by the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) in advance of its annual conference on Friday.

It found that the salary of an assistant principal officer was 30 per cent less and the pay of a principal officer was 60 per cent less than the total remuneration (including bonuses) available to senior managers in equivalent roles in the private sector.

The AHCPS represents mainly staff at assistant principal and principal officer level in the Civil Service.

The union is seeking an acceleration in the pace of restoration of pay cuts which were imposed on its 3,000 members over recent years. It also wants to see the existing link between the pay of principal officers in the Civil Service and TDs scrapped, as it believes it disadvantages its members.

AHCPS chairman John Glennon told the conference: “It is fair to say that the politicians view that link as being as valuable as a lifeboat on a sinking ship. We will continue with our efforts in this regard but don’t underestimate the degree to which politicians will cling to this pay lifeline.”

The union also argued that any future pay determination process must be free from political interference.

Increased workloads

The general secretary of the AHCPS Ciaran Rohan said: “It has been widely acknowledged and accepted that our members were subject to more pay deductions that any other section of the public sector during the financial emergency.

“Not only were their salaries reduced and taxes increased, they have also been working with increased workloads, serious staffing shortages and changes to their terms and conditions, many of which were very anti-family friendly.

“Recent research by the Central Statistics Office, ESRI and the IPA has also verified again that senior civil servants are being paid less than they would if working in the private sector.”

Mr Rohan said the Irish public deserved the highest standards in public services but to safeguard skilled and effective public services into the future. However, he said that “to attract and retain forward-thinking managers, they must be paid fairly and appropriately”.


The union also urged that senior officials who were required to take on regular or frequent foreign travel as part of fulfilling duties abroad should be paid a reasonable level of compensation.

The IPA report concluded that “the remuneration for the grades covered by the study are not competitive when compared to equivalent base pay and total pay for comparator positions in the private sector. Private sector total pay is inclusive of both base pay and bonus payments”.

It concludes that the salary of a principal officer “would need to be increased by 38 per cent to match the equivalent in terms of base pay in the private sector”. However, it says when the value of total pay in the private sector is factored in, this rises to 60 per cent. The salary of an assistant principal officer would need to increase by 18 per cent to match the base pay private equivalent or 30 per cent when total pay in the private sector is factored in, it finds.