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Policy Information

Public Service Pay

Published: 28 February 2019
From: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform


Public service pay expenditure is a function of two key drivers: the numbers of public servants employed, and the rate at which they are paid. As of 2019 there are over 330,000 full time (or equivalent) public servants, working in a variety of areas including policing, education and health.

In 2019, the public service pay bill is estimated to be €18.7 billion, or approximately 1/3 of current expenditure. In this context, the objective of public service pay policy is to manage pay expenditure at a sustainable level, which allows for the recruitment and retention of appropriately skilled staff.

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Acts

When the global financial crisis began in 2008, the government had to reduce expenditure to stabilise the public finances. At the time, the public service pay and pensions bill accounted for 35% of current expenditure, so the FEMPI legislation was enacted to reduce this.

Dismantling the Emergency Legislation

The process of unwinding the financial emergency legislation commenced with the Lansdowne Road Agreement (2016-2018) and will be completed under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020 .

The Lansdowne Road Agreement (2016-2018) was the first negotiated Agreement which partially restored entitlements by rolling back some of the pay and pensions reductions brought in under the 2009 to 2013 FEMPI Acts. The principal pay measures were:

  • from 1 January 2016 annualised salaries up to €24,000 were increased by 2.5%; and annualised salaries from €24,001 to €31,000 were increased by 1%
  • from 1 April 2017 annualised salaries up to €65,000 were increased by €1,000.

The cost of Lansdowne Road Agreement is estimated to have been €844 million. The implementation of the Lansdowne Road Agreement was supported by the FEMPI Act 2015 .

The Public Service Stability Agreement (2018-2020) extended the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement. By the end of 2020, pay will be restored to all public servants earning up to €70,000, which equates to almost 90% of public servants. Any outstanding amounts to be restored for high earners will be made by Ministerial Order under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 which implements the Public Service Stability Agreement. The unwinding of the FEMPI legislation was informed by the May 2017 report of the Public Service Pay Commission .

'New Entrants' Agreement

The Public Service Stability Agreement required that an examination of the remaining salary scale issues in respect of post January 2011 recruits (i.e. new entrants) be undertaken. Agreement was reached in September 2018 on remaining “new entrant” salary scale issues. On average this is worth approximately €3,300 for the 61,500+ new entrants hired since 2011. Implementation from March 2019 will result in 58% of new entrants enjoying some benefit in 2019, rising to 78% in 2020. The Agreement on new entrant salary scales was amended for new entrant nurses and midwives on recommendation from the Labour Court

Further Information

Please note that this Department does not have any role in the in the administration or processing of pay. If you have a question about your pay, please contact PeoplePoint or your local Human Resources office.

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