Unions negotiate safeguards to protect against any abuse of new rating system
A new system of performance rating for civil servants, replacing the current five-point rating system under the Performance Management Development System (PMDS) will apply this year. The new system will be simplified down to just two points – ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’.
The Department of Public Expenditure & Reform said that the Civil Service Management Board was of the view that the five-point system needed to be replaced. The board was set up last year as part of the civil service reform plan.
The civil service trade unions have jointly negotiated safeguards within the PMDS system to protect against any abuse or unfair outcomes. These measures include the ability of civil servants to access an independent appeal mechanism in the event that they wish to challenge an unsatisfactory rating.
IMPACT national secretary Andy Pike said the agreement reached on establishing a new PMDS rating system is welcome. “The previous five point rating scale proved to be complex and cumbersome for staff and managers to operate. There can be little doubt that the nature of the rating system, and the difficulty in identifying the most appropriate rating, contributed to the very low proportion of civil servants deemed to be working unsatisfactorily or requiring improvement.”
Andy added that the union wouldn’t expect any system to show that large numbers of civil servants are not working at a satisfactory level. “The reduction in public service numbers over the last eight years has required all civil servants to work differently, and in a more flexible manner, to carry out an enhanced range of duties with fewer staff.”
“However, we recognise the need to identify poor work performance in a simple and straightforward manner so that the necessary steps can be taken to assist the employee in reaching the required standard,” he said.
The new rating system will categorise civil servants as either working satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily. Andy said this will prove to be a much more efficient system to operate for all concerned.
“Where a performance problem is identified the PMDS system prioritises training and development requirements, and also suggests that managers review the employee’s work assignment to ensure their skills are being put to the best use.”
“The new rating system will contribute to maintaining excellence within the service, with much clearer processes for dealing with poor performance, whilst taking account of personal issues, for example if someone was affected by poor health, that might inhibit the employee’s ability to achieve reasonable objectives for improving their work performance,” he said.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said that the new rating system aims to “take the focus of PMDS away from looking back at past performance and instead to looking forward towards the development of future performance. The Department added that the new two-point system will also encourage the civil servant and managers to “focus on the ongoing management of performance, rather than on the award of the rating.” The Department added that the new system is designed to build and develop high performance and address underperformance where it occurs.
For more on the new performance management system, visit the Civil Service division’s section of the IMPACT website.