Special deals unlikely despite need to fill shortages in key areas

The Government has indicated there will be no special pay deals to recruit people to fill positions in the public service where there are shortages.

The report of the Public Service Pay Commission found, in general, there were no recruitment difficulties for the various large public service streams.

“However, there are problems in the case of some specific and specialist groups across the public service,” the commission said. 

“This includes those groups that are internationally in demand, particularly in the health sector.”

It said previous “flexibilities” that existed around pay scales in specialist and scarce skill areas “may need to be revisited” and suggested consideration should be given to commissioning a more comprehensive examination of the underlying difficulties in recruitment and retention in those areas.

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation general secretary Liam Doran said the report had confirmed recruitment and retention are serious issues throughout all areas of nursing and midwifery. 

“The pay commission has now confirmed the need for the matter to be the subject of detailed consideration in the negotiations due to begin shortly,” he said.

“These discussions must deliver the increase in pay, in the form of parity with other health professionals, required to ensure Ireland competes, with other countries, for the scarce resource of nursing and midwifery.”

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe appeared to indicate there would be no special pay deals when he said the retention issue in a certain number of “highly specific” areas could only be dealt with in the context of a collective agreement.

“The commission also makes the very valuable point that if there are issues in relation to retention, that the causes of that are broader than pay,” he said.

The commission, itself, did say it “found no evidence to support the view that reduced rates for new entrants represents a barrier to recruitment to the public service in general”.

It also said the parties recognised there were a wide range of other relevant factors particularly in comparison to employment in the private sector or in other countries such as pressurised work environment which impacts on workers’ ability to deliver patient care; provision of continued professional development, paid study days and clinical support; ability to offer a more attractive work environment; ability to address inefficient systems or processes which impact or distract from providing care.

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