Information Circular No 31/2013: Standardisation of Leave Arrangements

By Industrial Relations Officer

The Department of Defence has submitted proposals to PDFORRA to adjust and standardise certain elements of leave with the intention of implementing the changes by 1st Jan 2014.  The proposals arise under Para 1.8 of the Croke Park Agreement – which provides for the standardisation of terms and conditions across the Public Service.  In general the Department’s proposals seek to apply the standard Public Service limit of a maximum of 32 days annual leave for serving personnel and 30 days annual leave for new entrants and newly promoted personnel.

The main element of the proposals is the change to the system where presently leave is granted on a 7 day week basis to one where leave is granted on a 5 day week basis.  The proposed 5 day week system will see the ending of the existing requirement to take leave on a Saturday and Sunday – with weekend leave granted instead.  The Department intends that the proposed change will apply to annual leave; carryover leave; special leave on return from service outside the State and special leave on termination of service/prior to retirement on age grounds.  The Department’s proposals would also have some negative impact on the annual leave arrangements for members of the Naval Service serving afloat and members of the DFSM.

In relation to Christmas and Easter privilege leave, the Department proposes to grant 2 additional days annual leave and 2 additional days time off in lieu.

In relation to the Defence Forces Holidays, the Department proposes to abolish the three Defence Forces specific holidays – 1916 Commemoration Day, 11 July and 15 August.  In line with what occurred elsewhere in the Public Service, those losing such days would receive a once off allocation of an additional 4.5 days additional annual leave.

PDFORRAs initial response is that the levels of leave in the PDF are not out of step with the rest of the Public Service – and any additions reflect periods of time off in lieu in an organisation that does not operate an overtime system.  In the majority of cases the grant of Weekend Leave along with annual and other categories of leave will deliver the same amount of total leave.  In a further effort at standardisation, PDFORRA has also sought the granting of additional time off in lieu on occasion such as carrying 24 hr. duties on a Saturday.  The differences between the sides are likely to prolong the discussions and, accordingly, it is unlikely that the proposed implementation date of 1st January 2014 will be met.

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