Commission to examine pay levels in public service

Ministerial pay and pensions in addition to those of other office holders also on agenda

The Government has approved the establishment of a Public Service Pay Commission to examine pay levels across the public service.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said he intends to conduct a short public consultation over the coming weeks about the commission's role and methodology.

Mr Donohoe said the commission, which would be advisory in nature, was a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

“It is vital that the Government retains the ability to negotiate directly with its employees,” said the Minister, insisting the commission would not duplicate the work of the State’s existing industrial relations bodies.


“Rather, its role will be to provide authoritative and evidence-based analysis on pay matters to assist officials in discharging their negotiation function. It remains the role of my department to ensure, on behalf of Government, sensible management of future public service pay costs.”

Report back

Mr Donohoe promised to report back to Government with more detailed proposals in early autumn, following a consultation process with key stakeholders as required under the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The commission will examine pay levels for specific groups within the public sector and compare their rates of pay with those in the private sector.

A crucial difference with the earlier benchmarking process is that public service pay levels will be compared with public pay levels for similar groups in other countries.

The commission will also be asked to provide an objective analysis of the pay and pensions of Ministers and other office holders.

The public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said it was ready to engage with Mr Donohoe and his officials on the terms of reference for the proposed commission.

Ictu said the credibility of the proposed commission would depend on it being chaired by a highly qualified and fully independent expert with a deep understanding of public service pay determination and related issues.

Watered down


, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, voiced its disappointment at what it termed the “watering down” of the commission to an advisory body.

It called on the Minister to reconsider the formation of the commission to include an independent international chairman and to give the body its independence.

Meanwhile, the Government is to establish a new formal structure for dialogue between employers and trade unions to discuss economic and social policies affecting employment and the workplace.

The Cabinet yesterday agreed to setting up the new body, which will be known as the Labour Employer Economic Forum, or LEEF.

Mr Donohoe said the new forum would “allow for the Government to better formulate policy in a post-referendum, pre-Brexit environment”.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent