Local authority reforms propose ending right to individual desks and offices

Work practice changes linked to new public service pay agreement

Staff in local authorities face having to “hot desk “ in future under proposed new work practice reforms which could do away with the right to an individual designated work station.

Management is also looking to end the right of staff to have their own individual offices under new changes which are linked to the new public service pay agreement.

In a reform action plan for the local authority sector, published on Wednesday, management proposed there should be full co-operation by staff “with any changes to property utilisation required by departments to support their business, including preparatory changes aimed at making better and/or more efficient use of office space”.

“This specifically includes changes in office space resulting from flexible ways of working (eg blended working). This may mean, but is not limited to the following: agile, open-plan accommodation (at all grades),” the plan says.


The plan also calls for “optimising the utilisation of desks through no automatic right to a designated workstation”, and proposes “optimising office floor plates through no automatic right to single-occupancy office for any grade”.

Co-location across local authorities when required is also called for in the plan.

The reform plan says there should be “acceptance of reassignment to new roles because of structural changes or implementation of new technology”.

It also seeks agreement with staff “to work with departments/offices in relation to revised or new flexible working arrangements”. It says this will include but not be limited to the introduction of blended working policies.

New ways of working

Acceptance by staff “of new ways of working” that move away from traditional models of service provision in the delivery of local authority service including more digital processing, data analytics and “the implementation of robotic process automation” is also proposed.

Management want staff to agree to the elimination of paper payslips and their replacement with an online version. The new plan also proposes fortnightly pay schedules for retained firefighters.

In the civil service, management have already proposed the end of the automatic right for staff to have single-occupancy offices as part of similar reforms.

The Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath told the Oireachtas Committee on Finance last week that a reform agenda was part of the overall new public service agreement.

He said each sector would produce and publish reform plans “that will demonstrate delivery each year and payment of a 1 per cent sectoral fund will be conditional on the delivery of actual reforms”.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent