Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

School Staff

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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151. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will report on the improved employment conditions for school secretaries and caretakers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23659/22]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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School secretaries and caretakers are valued members of our school communities and my Department is fully aware of the vitally important role played by them in the running of our schools.

On the 24th February, following a series of engagements at the WRC, a package to settle a claim on terms and conditions for grant-funded school secretaries was proposed, which Fórsa agreed to recommend to its members. A ballot was undertaken and the result was 95% agreement in favour of the deal. I am very pleased to hear of this overwhelmingly positive result on what has been a long running issue, the resolution of which has been a priority for me since my appointment.

It is important to recognise that the majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools receive assistance to provide for these staff under grant schemes, and that where a school employs a staff member to support those functions those staff are employees of individual schools and responsibility for terms of employment rests with the school. On that basis, there has been extensive engagement between my Department and school management bodies to work towards a resolution. I would also like to acknowledge the willingness of Fórsa and in particular the school secretary representatives for their constructive engagement in this process, and to recognise the support of Minister McGrath and his officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform at all stages of the negotiations.

The main elements of the package offered include, in recognition of the invaluable work carried out by school secretaries, moving their pay rates to a scale which is aligned with the Clerical Officer Grade III pay scale on a pro rata basis according to a secretary’s current working pattern. This process will provide for pay increases (backdated to 1 September 2021) to school secretaries who choose to move to the new terms. It also provides for lower-paid but longer serving secretaries to be placed higher up the salary scale. Secretaries may also choose to receive additional pay to ensure they no longer need to apply to the Department of Social Protection for payment of benefits for periods when they are not working due to school holidays. The final element of the package will introduce standardised arrangements in respect of annual leave, maternity benefit and sick pay.

The work to implement this agreement will include a complex process of assimilating each individual secretary to the new terms and conditions which will vary depending on individual circumstances. The Department will expedite this process and will communicate further as the work progresses.

This offer relates only to school secretaries at present, while there is agreement in principle to take the same approach to the consideration of appropriate pay and conditions of grant funded caretakers there remains a deficit of data on working terms and conditions of such staff. Once the implementation plan for secretaries has been put in place, intensive engagement will begin on regularising the pay and conditions of grant funded caretakers.


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