Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Staff
157. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he has discussed with management of Trinity College Dublin proposals to freeze promotions for non-academic staff and to impose a moratorium on offering permanent contracts to non-academic staff; his views regarding increased precarity in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2540/17]
In line with the Universities Act, 1997 third-level institutions, including Trinity College Dublin (TCD), have autonomy in relation to promotion policies and other human resource policies, subject to the requirement to comply with Government policy in respect of core-funded employment numbers. Employers in the higher education sector are also required to operate in accordance with the provisions of national industrial relations agreements. My Department is not aware of any instance in which a third-level institution is not operating in accordance with good practice in relation to promotion and/or recruitment.
My Department also understands that all third-level employers have adhered to the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement and are operating in accordance with the provisions of the Lansdowne Road Agreement. In the event that a union believes that an employer in the higher education sector is not acting in accordance with the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement, that union can seek to have the matter addressed using the dispute resolution procedures provided for in the Agreement, and any individuals who have issues of dispute have a variety of dispute resolution options open to them.
From enquiries made by officials of my Department through the HEA, I understand that TCD last updated its promotions procedures in December 2015 when its Board decided to discontinue annual promotion calls among professional (administrative, technical, library and support) staff and the university authorities are now examining a more formalised job evaluation process to be developed for introduction during the 2016/2017 academic year. This will then be considered by university management and union representatives.
As the Deputy will be aware, since the introduction of the moratorium on public sector recruitment, an Employment Control Framework (ECF) has been in place for the higher education sector which provides institutions with considerable flexibility to fill vacancies through recruitment or promotions on the basis of meeting an overall ceiling of posts.
In Budget 2015, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announced that the existing ECFs and associated moratoriums would be lifted and replaced with a system of delegated sanction for recruiting and promoting up to Principal Officer level, subject to adherence by Departments to binding pay ceilings and ongoing compliance with Workforce Planning requirements. In light of this announcement it is hoped that a new Delegated Sanction Agreement for the higher education sector will be put in place shortly.