Government to consider a shorter working week for public servants

New recommendations are expected to set a minimum working week for public servants of 35 hours a week.
Government to consider a shorter working week for public servants

Public servants look set for a shorter working week following a recommendation from the Independent Body Examining Additional Working Hours.

As reported in The Irish Times, it has been recommended to the Government that additional hours for some public servants accepted in lieu of pay cuts during the economic crash will be discontinued.

In 2013, the working week for public servants who had been working 35 hours or less was changed to 37 hours per week. Meanwhile, those who worked over 35 hours had their working week increased up to 39 hours.

New recommendations are expected to set a minimum working week for public servants of 35 hours a week.

It has been estimated that the move will cost €180 million this year, and €360 million in a full year thereafter.

The suggestion comes as part of the most recent public sector pay agreement, the Building Momentum deal.

However, it is understood that some exceptions were also recommended such as for hospital consultants, who are currently engaged in contract negotiations, and for academics.

Concern over health service changes

Concerns have been raised within Government over the impact the new recommendations would have on the health service if implemented.

According to a source, the change to working hours would need to be "carefully considered before being implemented”. The report is not expected to be considered by Government for a number of weeks.

Speaking about the recommendations, Kevin Callinan, general secretary of the trade union Fórsa, said a change to working hours would remove “a longstanding and debilitating drain on morale and productivity”.

“The acceptance of the recommendation by Government would also significantly enhance the prospect for continued stability in public service delivery and quality, not least by removing a huge obstacle to the successful negotiation of a public service agreement to replace Building Momentum when it expires later this year,” he said.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation welcomed the suggestion, with INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha commenting that it would help with the retention of staff

“The additional hours have disproportionately impacted our largely female workforce,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha

“Since 2013 the additional unpaid hours have had a considerable negative impact on morale, and the retention of nurses and midwives within the public health service.”

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