Generally, civil servants are recruited in competitions. The Public Appointments Service and the Commission for Public Service Appointments act as recruitment agents. The Public Appointments Service recruits assess and select appointees for government departments.
The Commission for Public Service Appointments regulates recruitment. It publishes codes of practice and standards which must be complied with. It can allow public service bodies to recruit themselves or use private sector recruitment agencies which are approved by the Commission.
The competition for roles will depend on the nature of the role concerned. It may consist of an examination, interview or both.
Open recruitment was introduced for certain management level jobs in the civil service as of 2007. Opportunities may be widely advertised.
Certain categories of employees are not recruited through the Public Appointment Service competitions. This may include certain types of skilled workers with particular talents and other categories such as cleaners, porters, short-term appointees and seasonal staff. In some types of non-competitive appointment, the procedure is left to the government department.
The Secretary-General of each department is appointed by the government on the recommendation of the minister.
Appointments and Promotions
Promotions are technically appointments and thereby subject to the consent of the minister concerned. In the case of more senior roles, the Department of Finance must also consent. Where promotions do not take place on the basis of grade to grade progression, the Public Appointment Commission consent is required.
The head of the department certifies that the person is fully qualified and is the most eligible. In recent years there has been a commitment to the greater use of competition and merit-based promotions.
The top-level appointments commission appoints secretaries general, assistant secretaries and technical posts at the same level. They advise the government in relation to the appointments. The top-level appointments commission advises governments.
The top-level appointments commission consists of senior civil servants including the Secretary-General to the government and certain others. It does not deal with some very senior (secretary general) appointments which are made directly by the government.
General Terms and Obligations
The Civil Servants Regulation Acts provide for the terms on which civil servants hold their office Until recently, only the government can dismiss a civil servant. In practice, it is done for very serious misconduct only.
A civil servant may be suspended for grave misconduct. He may be reduced in pay or grade. There is provision for disciplinary conduct, for misconduct, neglect, unsatisfactory behaviour and underperformance. The Unfair Dismissals Act now applies to many civil servants. Civil servants must report the fact that they are convicted of offences or given the Probation Act.
Civil servants must be impartial. They may not stand for public office. They must respect laws.
Civil servants must attend work and comply with their legal obligations. They must have proper regard to the resources of the State in use of public money. They must show respect to the colleagues including their beliefs and values.
Pay and Conditions
Civil servants’ pay scales generally provide annual increments. There are longer scales on the basic grades with shorter scales at the medium and higher levels.
Most civil servant pay is determined by a conciliation system, usually through staff associations. An arbitrator may be appointed by the Minister for Finance. Some employees are subject to Joint Industrial Council under the Labour Court.
Above principal, level, recommendations are made to the government by the review body on higher remuneration. The rates are ultimately fixed by the Department of Finance.
Civil servants must not communicate governmental and private information without being authorised.No material may be published touching on the business of any department without the agreement of the head of the department.
The Official Secrets Act covers certain sensitive activities. The Official Secrets Act prevents civil servants from making disclosure of information in the course of their duty. This has been limited somewhat by the Freedom of Information Act.
There is immunity in relation to complaints made in good faith to the Standards in Public Office Commission (whistleblowing).
No Personal Benefit
Official positions must not be used for personal benefit or the benefit of those with whom they have personal or business relationships. Civil servants must not be influenced in making decisions on matters relating to their official positions other than through established procedures.
They must not engage in outside business that would conflict with the interests of their department. They must not receive any benefit from third parties which might reasonably be seen to compromise their judgement or integrity.
Departments must make rules relating to receipt of gifts. Care must be taken to ensure that the acceptance of hospitality does not influence or appear to influence functions. There must be clear standards in place.
Outside appointments and political actions
Civil servants must not seek contracts with government departments or offices for the supply of goods for their benefit or that of someone or an entity with which they have a relationship. They must not accept an appointment or consultancy where it could lead to a conflict of interest or a perception of such without the approval of the Outside Appointment Boards or the secretary general. Certain civil servants must not take up a position within 12 months of resignation or retirement without the approval of the Outside Appointments Board.
Civil servants are prohibited from participating in party politics. This has been modified for certain grades such as clerical staff, technical and industrial workers. Certain such grades may engage in politics though not stand for election to the Oireachtas.
Civil servants involved in policy cannot undertake any political activity. Executive, middle and senior grades are generally thereby prohibited.
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