PSSA working time provisions to kick in

A means of allowing staff to convert some annual leave into flexi-time is to be developed in a number of pilot schemes, with a view to rolling it out across the public service in time. Unions and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) agreed to this approach at a recent meeting of the ‘oversight body’ set up to monitor the implementation of the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), which was recently endorsed by a large majority of unions.

Unions and DPER will also meet to agree how to implement the PSSA provision that gives staff the option of a permanent return to ‘pre-Haddington Road’ hours on the basis of a pro-rata pay adjustment. Under the deal, staff will be able to permanently opt into this arrangement in one of two time slots – at the start of the agreement in January-April 2018, or at its end in January-April 2021.

IMPACT and other unions won these provisions in the talks that fashioned the PSSA, despite strong resistance from management in some parts of the public service. Although they fall short of the restoration of additional hours introduced under the Haddington Road agreement in 2011, they at least give options to staff for whom time is more important than money.

A July 2017 report by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service put the value of the additional Haddington Road hours at €583 million a year – a huge exchequer saving and productivity boost delivered by Ireland’s public servants.

As reported in the last issue of this bulletin, the oversight body also kick-started PSSA measures to address ‘new entrant’ and recruitment and retention issues.

Meanwhile, members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) have voted overwhelmingly to accept the PSSA. Their colleagues in the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) are currently voting on the deal after the association’s executive recommended acceptance.

With almost all the ballots concluded, virtually all unions have backed the deal and a large aggregate majority of public servants voted in favour. Members of only four unions rejected the PSSA, and all of these are currently working within its provisions. This means their members can access the benefits of the agreement.