Autumn E-zine 2018
AHCPS Autumn E-zine
12th October 2018
Dear Branch Secretary
Below is an update on current issues. Please circulate to all members.
Public Service Pay & Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020: The Association is pleased to note the adjustment of 1% applied to pay scales this week [1st October 2018] as part of the Agreement reached on 8th June 2017. Additional adjustments of 1.75% apply on 1st September 2019 and 2% on 1st October 2020. It has been agreed that the remaining FEMPI balances will be restored by the 1st of July 2021.
A table showing adjusted pay scales can be accessed here. It includes clarification on the application of the new Additional Superannuation Contribution or ARC. This replaces the FEMPI Pension Related Deduction or PRD from 1st January 2019. Members will note that the exemption level rises from €28,750 to €32,000 worth €325pa and on 1st January 2020 the exemption increases again to €34,500 worth an additional €250pa.
Submission to the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC): The Association is awaiting the report and recommendations of the PSPC. We made three submissions to the Commission (AP, PO and Prison Governors) highlighting the pay gap that exists between the pay of our members and their private sector counterparts. This was an evidence-based submission grounded in the Institute of Public Administration Report commissioned by the Executive Committee. A copy of the IPA Report can be accessed here and the AHCPS comments on the Report here.
Extension of the Maximum Retirement Age
The Government has agreed an increase in the compulsory retirement age from 65 to 70 for public servants recruited before 1st April 2004. The minimum pension age (the earliest date at which someone can retire and receive their pension) will not be affected by the new arrangements. Draft legislation is currently going through the Oireachtas as the General Scheme of a Bill has been approved by Government. The Minister has agreed with sectoral public service employers some limited interim arrangements to apply until the commencement of the necessary legislation. The interim arrangement will allow public servants who reach the age of 65 in that period and who wish to remain working, to retire and be re-hired so that they remain in employment up to the State Pension Age, which is currently 66. Further details can be found here. The circular can be found here.
Events for Members
The Executive Committee is conscious of the need to continue to introduce new events/initiatives for members. Some of the events outlined below are in this context:
A further Training Workshop for Branch Representatives: This was held in HQ on 18th April 2018. 12 members participated. The feedback was extremely positive confirming there is a continued demand for these workshops. Further dates will be notified via branch secretaries.
Retirement Course: We intend to hold retirement courses for members in Q1 of 2019 in response to enquiries and requests we are receiving. The date will be notified via branch secretaries.
75th Anniversary: Having held a very successful ‘Women in Leadership’ seminar in February, the Association continued to mark our 75th Anniversary 1943-2018 with our ‘Brexit’ seminar. We will shortly have our third and final seminar ‘Workplace of the Future’. To close our Anniversary Year there will be a special Consultative Council meeting on 3rd December 2018 in the Westin Hotel. Details of that event will be notified to members in advance.
Workplace of the Future: Members received details under Circular 9/2018 in the past few days on how to register for the seminar. You are asked to do so as soon as possible as there is a strong level of interest developing around the event. All five speakers are now confirmed and include; Regina Doherty TD Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection; Dr Christina Colcough Director UNI Global Union; Dr Lisa Wilson Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI); John Ryan CEO Great Place to Work and Mark Hopkins Director for Dell EMCs business in ROI Public Sector and Northern Ireland. The full Circular can be accessed here.
Deputy General Secretary
The Association is very pleased to welcome Paul Malone as the new Deputy General Secretary. Paul took up his position on 24th September 2018. His appointment was confirmed by the Association’s Executive Committee following an open competitive process. Paul’s former roles include Head of Human Resources in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government where he was responsible for people and organisation development. He also held several senior HR roles at SOLAS/FÁS. Paul has over 20 years of experience in HR across the Public Service. He is a graduate of Dublin City University where he was awarded with a B.A in Communication Studies, a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Training Management and an MSc in Human Resource Strategies. He also holds a Certificate in Personnel Practice (CIPD) from University of Limerick.
In welcoming Paul and extending to him every good wish in his new appointment the Association would also like to extend sincere appreciation and gratitude to his predecessor John Kelleher for his dedicated leadership as our previous Deputy General Secretary before his retirement in July.
Branch Re-organisation: As a result of the appointment of our new Deputy General Secretary there has been some minor alterations to the listing of branches under the responsibility of each of our officials and the current listing can be accessed here.
Flexible Working Hours (FWH)
The Association held further discussions with DPER with the objective of having FWH reintroduced on an optional basis for APs appointed since the Haddington Road Agreement. The HRA removed the facility for newly appointed APs. In July 2018 the Association achieved this objective and DPER agreed, that to be an ‘Employer of Choice’ and to attract and retain external and internal talent, there is a need to be responsive and recognise how work design and work life balance has evolved. The Civil Service HR Policy Division undertook to communicate with HR Managers and Senior Management in the Civil Service about the need for flexibility. However, DPER would not concede to the accumulation of flexi leave for Assistant Principals in departments that had that right.
The Association does not accept that APs on flexible working arrangements cannot accumulate flexi leave and is currently preparing a statement of case to take to third-party. We regard the flexi leave facility as an important component of any flexible working arrangement. It is also inequitable to have existing APs with full flexi time working side-by-side with colleagues with a curtailed arrangement.
Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2018
The Civil Service Staff Panel of Unions comprising the AHCPS, FÓRSA, Prison Officers Association and the Veterinary Officers Association made a joint submission on 14th September 2018 to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach dealing with this draft legislation. It is enabling legislation passed by Government. This is a serious development for our members rather than using the normal industrial relations process. There are two specific objections; The proposal to devolve the power of dismissal below the level of Secretary General or Head of Agency – potentially to Principal Officer level – and the proposal to change the arrangements for handling appeals against serious disciplinary sanctions.
Negotiations continue in An Post where major restructuring plans have been proposed as part of a five-year plan to return the company to profitability. The Association has recently commenced negotiations with the company on the restructuring of the retail division while moving to close off the last assignment of our members in the restructured mails division. An Post has temporarily re-opened its voluntary leaving scheme but the terms of this are not as favourable as earlier exit packages. The Association has ensured that there are no compulsory redundancies and has co-operated fully in the future proofing of the company’s business and payment of the third phase of the pay agreement.
Panels & PO Sequence
2017 Open Principal Officer Panel: A panel of 78 is in place since 21st November 2017. There is no closure date specified and the Association has informed DPER that it is desirable that a closure date is specified for future competitions. DPER advises that such panels usually exist for in or around a two-year period. There were 1639 applicants for the competition with only 9% of successful candidates from the private sector. The last person assigned was at number 53 but 53 in all have not been assigned as successful candidates remain on the panel awaiting regional appointments.
PO Sequence: The Arbitration Board ruling of September 2015 introduced a requirement that every two in three PO appointments must be from the Open Panel. The Association believes there is a need for a reduction of the more favoured position given to open recruitment from the Open Panel as against internal competitions. There is growing evidence that the current system hampers workforce planning and internal career development in departments. We met with DPER on 25th September 2018 to emphasise this point and that we understand many departments support this view. Following these representations DPER is to further engage with departments before reaching a final position.
PO1 Panel: There were 12 in total placed on the panel and the last person assigned was at number 8.
AP1 Panel: The panel is nearly exhausted with the last person assigned at number 40 from a panel of 46.
NSSO Customer Survey
The National Shared Services Office (NSSO) plans to conduct, on a phased basis, a customer engagement survey over the course of Q3 2018 and into early 2019. The survey is planned over two distinct phases:
Phase 1 – will entail a survey of local HR/payroll units in each Department/Office on whose behalf the NSSO interacts.
Phase 2 – will entail a full, sector-wide survey of all NSSO customers/users at individual level.
It is expected that the results of the survey will assist the NSSO in developing an action plan to address the findings.
The AHCPS, along with Forsa, has been invited to participate in a steering group to guide and assist the development and roll-out of the survey. This is an important opportunity for the Association to ensure that the views and deep concerns of members at the level of service provided by the NSSO is reflected in the approach taken. It is also an opportunity to ensure that the voice and experience of the customer is central to any decisions on the future of shared services. Further updates will be provided to members as the project progresses.
Effectiveness & Renewal Group – Dep. Justice & Equality
The Association is holding an EGM of the Justice Branch on Monday 8th October 2018 to consult with members as to their views and concerns on the recently published Effectiveness and Renewal Group report. The full report can be accessed here. This envisages a functional model of work delivery across 5 Units comprising Policy, Governance, Legislation, Transparency & Operations. It is likely the model will eventually cross departments therefore it is of broad interest to the Association. It is understood that consultants to help with the implementation process of the restructuring will be appointed at the end of October and will commence work in November. The Association intends to actively engage with the Department to ensure our members’ views and concerns are fully advanced.
Services to Members
The Association urges members not already in our Income Continuance Scheme to consider joining. Under the new sick leave rules a civil or public servant is reduced to half pay after exceeding an absence of three months in any 4-year period. Our Income Continuance Scheme, at a cost of 0.6% of gross salary is the cheapest amongst our fellow unions and returns a member of the Scheme to 75% of original salary. Our life assurance scheme costs 0.48% of gross salary and has a cover level of twice salary in the event of death in service. The cost of both schemes is tax deductible. In addition, travel, dental, car insurance and house insurance schemes are all available to members – full details can be accessed here.
Members are reminded of the Association’s twitter account @ahcps Please follow and retweet etc.
This circular will be placed on the Association’s website www.ahcps.ie.