Public service leave to be capped at 32 days

16th November 2011

New Government proposals, which envisage no cuts in leave for the great majority of public servants, will mean that no existing public servant gets more than 32 days leave from next year. The cap, which will fall to 30 days for new entrants, would come into effect in 2012.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin instructed his officials to draw up a standardised leave package earlier this year, following controversy over local authority employers’ plans to slash leave for all staff from April 2011. The local government proposal, which was successfully resisted by IMPACT, led to huge public controversy over high leave entitlements for some public servants.

IMPACT has described the new package as a “far more reasonable” than the earlier local government proposals.

The Croke Park agreement, which was accepted in a national ballot of IMPACT members by a margin of 77% to 23%, requires unions and management to reach agreement on standardisation of leave arrangements across the public service.

Under the new package, current leave allowances will not change for staff who currently have between 22 and 32 days leave a year. The only exception is that staff due to move to an annual leave allowance of 23 days once a service requirement is met will immediately see their leave increased to 23 days with effect from January 2012.

However, the 32-day ceiling comprises all leave including annual leave and ‘privilege days.’ In the few places it exists, leave associated with ‘business closures’ (like Christmas closing) is also included. Staff whose total leave currently exceeds 32 days will see their entitlement reduced to 32 days from 2012, although those who lose out will receive a one-off ‘compensation’ of 1.5 times the leave lost.

Existing staff who take promotion will be treated as new entrants for leave purposes. In other words, they will get a maximum of 30 days leave, rather than 32.

Where privilege days still exist, they will be abolished and subsumed into annual leave. Leave for local festivals will be abolished in the few places it still exists, with those affected getting a one-off ‘compensation’ of 1.5 times the leave lost.

IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the package was a reasonable outcome because it protected the great majority of public servants. “This package must be judged against the original proposals, which aimed to slash leave for every single public servant. It addresses the high levels of leave for some managers – over 40 days in some cases – which were untenable and provided ammunition for critics of the public service. And it protects the great majority of public servants who will see no change to their leave arrangements,” he said.

IMPACT’s decision on the proposals rests with the union’s Central Executive Committee and a final decision will be taken by ICTU’s Public Services Committee.

Read the official proposals HERE.