Thousands of public servants will have their working hours reduced back to lower pre-austerity levels from 1 July, if a recommendation made by an independent body examining the issue is accepted by the Government.
Extra working hours were introduced for the public servants under the 2013 Haddington Road Agreement.
The mechanism of additional hours was used as an alternative to a third pay cut.
Standard working time of civil and public servants increased to 39 hours for those who previously worked between 35 and 37 hours.
Those who previously worked for 35 hours or less rose to 37 hours.
While the hours of those working 39 hours or more per week remained the same.
However, under the recommendation made by the independent body, chaired by former Workplace Relations Commission chief executive, Kieran Mulvey, the pre-July 2013 hours would return, albeit with a minimum 35-hour working week.
The body was set up under the Building Momentum public service agreement.
The recommendation has been welcomed by Fórsa which pointed out that temporary pay cuts for more senior public servants, also introduced under Haddington Road, have already been restored.
While the very top earners are to have their pay restored in July and overtime and premium payment cuts have also been restored.
“The additional hours introduced under the HRA fell hardest on women with caring responsibilities, and they have been increasingly counterproductive in terms of service delivery, morale and productivity,” said Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan.
“This recommendation allows the Government to remove the HRA’s final outstanding austerity-era measure and, with it, a deep grievance among many – mostly lower-paid – public servants.”
He added that acceptance would also significantly enhance the prospect for continued stability in public service and remove a huge obstacle to the successful negotiation of a public service agreement to replace Building Momentum when it expires later this year.
He also stated that he was confident that the return to pre-austerity arrangements could be achieved without excessive cost or damage to public service quality or output.
SIPTU said it also supports the recommendation.
“Given that many of the other austerity measures imposed under the earlier Haddington Road Agreement have now ended, such as restrictions on overtime and premium payments and temporary pay cuts to senior public servants, it is timely that this matter is brought to an amicable resolution,” said SIPTU Deputy General Secretary John King.
“This recommendation, if accepted by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath, will be welcomed by those public servants affected.”
“They are mainly women and lower-paid workers who have had a deepfelt annoyance and frustration over the imposition of unpaid working time.”
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said the recommendation will benefit the retention of nurses and midwives.
“The additional hours have disproportionately impacted our largely female workforce,” she said.
“The additional hours have pushed many nurses and midwives into part-time work due to the additional pressure that was put on caring responsibilities.”
“We know that 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.”