Public servants may lose out on 80 different allowances

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin speaks to the media after the talks concluded yesterday morning. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin speaks to the media after the talks concluded yesterday morning. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 00:00

Public service staff could lose out on money paid under 80 different allowances which are already being targeted by the Government for elimination in addition to the controversial measures to reduce pay, premium and overtime rates as part of the proposed new Croke Park agreement.

The full Labour Relations Commission (LRC) document on the proposed deal, which was published tonight, says staff would have to give full cooperation to the review of allowances announced last year by the Government.

The LRC document also reveals that the Government is also to review existing travel and subsistence arrangements for public service staff.

Last October the Government announced that it wanted to abolish 88 allowances paid to serving personnel in different sectors including education, health, justice and defence.

The LRC document says that unions and management should take account of a ruling by the Labour Court and enter into central talks with a view to reaching a deal on ameliorating losses that arose as a result of the elimination of pensionable allowances.

The document also says that “there will be full co-operation by the parties with the review (of travel and subsistence arrangements) and the implementation of a standardised system of travel and subsistence across the public service”.

The LRC document also says that the additional hours which staff in different parts of the public service will have to work under the proposed new deal “may be aggregated on a daily, weekly or annual basis as best meets service demands following local consultation, based on the principles agreed in each sector”.

In the civil service, it says that while Saturday will not be a normal working day, “it could, in certain circumstances, be utilised to cope with the cases of peak work requirements”.

The LRC document also says that in areas such as health sector management wants reforms in the staffing arrangements for Sunday working, which is at the centre of the current row over premium payments.

“Management will seek actively to reduce the overall numbers of staff rostered for duty on Sundays. At the same time, all staff will co-operate with measures to achieve the most cost-effective skill mix and staffing ratios to meet service needs.”

“Co-operation will be forthcoming for other measures to improve to improve efficiency and effectiveness of hospital services, in particular concentrating as much care provision as possible into the Monday to Saturday period. Staff co-operation will be forthcoming for the establishment of hospital groups and for the re-organisation of services within and between those groups.”

The document proposes reforms to enhance the provision to re-deploy staff in a bid to maintain frontline services as staffing levels are reduced.

It says where an individual refuses an assignment to a comparable role in the public service he or she would be subject to normal disciplinary procedures.

“Where re-deployment is not an option and taking account of the business needs of the organisation, there may be circumstances where voluntary departures would be appropriate.”

The document also says that there will be an acceleration of performance management systems across the public service.

It says revised arrangements would be aimed at ensuring that managers are held accountable for managing the performance of their staff. It says procedures to deal with underperformance will be streamlined.

“Where agreed procedures for managing instances of consistent performance issues have been exhausted, dismissal from the public service will be actively pursued.”

The LRC document also suggests reforms to existing work-sharing and flexitime working arrangements and says proposals for re-structuring existing grades in each sector should be put in place by next year.

“In recognition of on-going resource constraints, there will be flexibility around traditional grade demarcations.”

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