Search icon


11th Jan 2022

Government considering a shorter working week for public servants

Katy Brennan

A Government decision will be made this week.

Thousands of public servants look set to have their working hours reduced following a recommendation from an independent body.

The Government will make a decision later this week after examining the suggestions, which will see a minimum working week of 35 hours for public servants including nurses, educators, and local authority staff.

In 2013, the working week for public servants who typically worked 35 hours or less was changed to 37 hours per week. For those who typically worked over 35 hours, their hours were increased up to 39 hours.

The independent body has recommended that these extra hours introduced in 2013 are reversed.

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, said the extra hours were debilitating and negatively impacted workers’ morale.

“This recommendation, if accepted by the by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath, will be welcomed by those public servants affected,” he said.

“They are mainly women and lower paid workers who have had a deep felt annoyance and frustration over the imposition of unpaid working time.”

He added: “Restoration of working hours to their pre-2013 levels, subject to a 35-hour working week, will remove a longstanding and debilitating drain on morale and productivity across the civil and public service.”

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has also welcomed the recommendations, with general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha saying it will largely benefit the retention of staff.

“The additional hours have disproportionately impacted our largely female workforce,” she said.

“Since 2013 the additional unpaid hours have had a considerable negative impact on morale, and the retention of nurses and midwives within the public health service.”

However, it is understood that some exceptions have been recommended, including for certain workers in academic roles, as well as hospital consultants who are currently engaged in contract negotiations.