A revised action plan for the Croke Park Agreement – including a 3,200 reduction in staff numbers in 2013 – has laid bare the HR solutions being put in place to aid economic recovery in Ireland; solutions which will be familiar to private sector businesses.

Officially known as the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, the Croke Park Deal was signed in 2010 between the Irish Government, the ICTU (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) and other agencies, with the principle aims of:

• Reducing the size of the Exchequer salary bill by cutting numbers of public service staff.

• Redeployment to areas where staff cuts were made, in order to maintain a front line service.

• Improving efficiency through such things as online rostering software and shared payroll services.

Each sector had a detailed action plan, which in the health service included a massive reduction in staff numbers. With more than 7,000 staff lost so far, a further 6,500 redundancies are planned for 2013 – 14. Rostering changes and reducing junior doctor hours will achieve further savings of €13m. Other HR and payroll solutions that have been implemented include changes to sick leave, time off in-lieu and rest day entitlements.

On budget day in December, Health Minister James Reilly planned to slash health service expenditure from €781m to €308m from the 2013 salary bill. The government’s National Recovery Plan for 2011 – 14 has also affected the private sector, but by using the right HR solutions, businesses can make savings without losing valued staff. Examples include outsourcing payroll services and the use of rostering software.

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