Public Service Pay Commission: Your questions answered

Last amended Tuesday 19th July 2016

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What is the Public Service Pay Commission?

The Programme for Government promised to establish a Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) to “examine pay levels across the public service, including entry levels of pay,” but gave no further details. Now public spending minister Paschal Donohoe has got Cabinet approval to establish the Commission.

You can read the Minister’s statement HERE.

What’s it going to do?

The body will “provide authoritative and evidence-based analysis of pay matters,” and assist the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in its negotiations with unions. It won’t replace direct union-management negotiations on pay and related matters.

It will be able to compare pay rates for specific public service grades and occupations with private sector trends in the context of recruitment and retention difficulties.

It will be able to make comparisons between the pay of Irish public servants and their equivalent grades in other countries. However, such comparisons will have to “have due regard” to the cost of living in each jurisdiction. This is significant because Ireland has one of the highest costs of living in the EU.

It will also take account of things like pension benefits, security of tenure, and recruitment and retention issues. Of course, these have always been factors in public service pay determination.

How will it work?

It’s expected that the Commission will commission research, as well as using existing data on pay and conditions. It will seek submissions from unions. It is also understood that it will publish its findings and the evidence on which its findings are based.

What happens next?

Firstly, there will be a short public consultation before the terms of reference are finalised.

Next, the membership of the Commission – including a chair – will have to be found, which may take a little time. Nevertheless, IMPACT believes the minister wants the Commission to start work later this year.

What does IMPACT say?

IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan gave conditional support to the idea of a Commission at the union’s conference in May. He said IMPACT would welcome the Commission so long as it didn’t replace negotiated pay agreements or promote special deals for certain groups of public servants. “We are not leaving anyone behind on the journey to pay recovery,” he said.

The union believes that the Commission has the potential to assist in periodic evaluation of specific public service grades, which is in line with the policy adopted by the union at its most recent delegate conference.

Following Paschal Donohoe’s latest announcement, IMPACT said the Commission must have a fully independent and expert chair, and that its membership should not be packed with academics. IMPACT also said the Commission should include an adequate number of members with trade union backgrounds.

IMPACT and other unions have welcomed the assurance that the Commission will not replace pay negotiations, as well as the commitment to equity in its draft terms of reference.

You can read the full statement from IMPACT and other unions HERE.