FAQs – Recruitment Pause Dispute: Industrial Action

Clerical Admin and Managerial grades

Please note this is a live document and will be updated as further FAQs arise.

Last updated: 15 February 2024

Update: On Tuesday 6th February Fórsa and the HSE agreed on a set of proposals at the WRC, in talks aimed at resolving the dispute arising from the HSE’s recruitment embargo on clerical, administrative and management grades imposed last October.
Branches have been advised that the Health and Welfare DEC had decided to suspend the union’s campaign of industrial action, following agreement on the WRC proposals.

A framework document is currently being finalised. The work-to-rule action, and all forms of industrial action, are now suspended, with immediate effect. Members should now forward relevant KPIs, financial data and statistical information.

Industrial Action

Industrial action escalated on Friday (27th October). The action has been in response to the HSE’s unilateral imposition of a moratorium on recruitment, and commenced on 6th October last in the form of work to rule. Read the letter of instruction from Ashley Connolly, Head of the Health &Welfare Division, updated on October 27thHERE.

Please see below for details on what the escalation covers.

The industrial action commenced at each member’s normal starting time on Friday 6th October 2023. There will be an escalation from Friday 27th October 2023, until further notice.

This decision to commence industrial action tomorrow was taken by the Divisional Executive taking the following into consideration:

• On the 29th May 2023, the HSE unilaterally imposed a recruitment pause on Grade VII posts and above. This was immediately disputed by Fórsa as a breach of our collective agreements, and we informed the employer that we were now in dispute.
• Fórsa commenced a secret ballot of members on the 3rd July and the result of that ballot was overwhelmingly (93%) in favour of taking industrial action.
• In line with the Dispute Resolution Framework, Fórsa served the required 3 weeks’ notice on the employers with industrial action initially scheduled to commence on the 4th September 2023.
• On 21st August 2023 the parties were invited to attend conciliation at the WRC and following lengthy engagement we reached an agreement on the 1st September whereby the HSE gave a commitment to the filling of all vacancies in the affected grades from the 1st September.
• At the request of the WRC, Fórsa temporarily suspended the commencement of the industrial action to the 30th September to allow for further engagement to take place so that the parties could develop a specific Framework Agreement.
• Following three engagements throughout September, the most recent being 28th September 2023, the Disputes Committee agreed a further temporary suspension to the 1st November to allow for further engagement which was scheduled for the 6th October 2023. It is important to note that we had arrived at a point of a draft framework agreement with many of the principles agreed between the parties.
• The actions of the HSE yesterday (5th October), in issuing this memo, has irrevocably broken all trust between the parties and demonstrates an unwarranted and unfair disdain for the national industrial relations process. Such an approach will simply not be tolerated by our members.

The Divisional Executive Committee has established a dispute committee to oversee the industrial action.

The industrial action takes the form of a work to rule instruction set out below. We have also informed the employer that we reserve the right to escalate this action with seven days’ notice.

Escalation on Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th December:

  • Lunchtime protests will take place over two days, Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th December, outside hospitals all around Ireland between 12:45pm and 1:45pm. Your local branch will be able to give you the details of the sites you should attend.

Escalation from Friday 27th October 2023:

• Members should decline, unless normally rostered, to work over weekends and / or bank holidays.
• Members should not use their work allocated mobile phone outside of their normal working hours unless it is for emergency purposes.
• Members should not take direction or report to an agency worker from Grade V or above.
• Members should not work outside their agreed contract working hours unless in receipt of agreed overtime rates (this does not include flexi time).
• Members in the eastern region where IFMS has been implemented should continue to carry out their roles and functions. They should not cooperate or engage in relation to the further roll out of this program or any new functionality beyond what has been implemented as of 19th October 2023.
• Members working across the IFMS should not cooperate with any external agency in relation to IFMS workload.
• Members should not engage in communications with all non-HSE personnel in the CTTO and CISO Offices.
• Members should not cooperate with HealthIrl Computer Domain Migration Project and /or other reform projects.

Instruction in operation since 6th October 2023:

• Not undertake tasks, functions or responsibilities associated with any vacant post.
• Not carry out the duties of a higher grade and strictly adhere to the rules and procedures governing your post.
• Boycott all engagement in relation to HSE Health Regions also known as Regional Health Areas.
• Not engage or attend any working groups, planning, restructuring, consultation, scoping, discussion meetings / forums in relation to all change programs underway across the HSE and / or Section 38’s. (e.g. RHA’s, HSPA, NiSRP)
• Not engage or participate in any meetings in relation to the further roll out of the IFMS change program including the roll out of implementation group 2, 3, 4 and 5.
• Not return national information / data returns e.g., KPI’s, A&E Stats, Delayed discharges, monthly activities etc. (this includes non-engagement in online forums and / or teleconference in relation to same).
• Not engage with Finance and HR Information processes (this includes non-engagement in online forums and / or teleconference in relation to same)
• Not cooperate with regulatory bodies e.g., HIQA.
• Withdrawal from all national committees.
• Not engage with, meet, report to, or provide any information to external private consultants or HSE advisors.
• Not participate or engage with performance achievement / management.
• Not engage with all political forums and / or processes (PQ’s, RHF’s etc).
• Not engage with any proposals in relation to the extended working week.

Members should provide support and cover as normal when a colleague is on annual leave and / or short-term sick leave.
No cover is to be provided for a post that remains vacant e.g. cover for maternity leave, retirement, career breaks.

Members should provide support and cover as normal when a colleague is on short term sick leave.

No cover is to be provided for a post that remains vacant due to long term sick leave.

If in receipt of a temporary higher appointment you should continue to carry out the role and responsibilities associated with your temporary higher appointment post except for those elements of your role which are in the list of actions above.

If you are not in receipt of a temporary higher appointment then you should not carry out the role, responsibilities, functions, or procedures of a post of a higher grade.

If members are in receipt of temporary higher appointment (including the unpaid element of this contract) they should continue to carry out this role.  The commitment of a temporary higher appointment must be in writing.


Members are instructed to boycott and disengage from all change programmes across the HSE and Section 38 organisations unless a derogation has been granted to the employer. Management have been asked to identify any areas that may impact on emergency services and / or patient care and these will be considered by the National Dispute Committee of the Divisional Executive.

Members are also instructed to boycott any training programmes being organised / provided to assist with the roll out of change programmes.

In the eastern region where IFMS has been implemented members should continue to carry out their roles and functions.

There should be no cooperation or engagement in relation to the further roll out of this program. In the Eastern Region and / or in other regions members are not to cooperate with any external agency in  relation to IFMS workload.

Members whose main duty and responsibility is to collect and process data will continue to perform this duty, however, they should not be passing it on for central HSE reporting purposes until the industrial action is stood down.

Where members are required to save data to a shared drive, they should save data to a different location for the duration of the industrial action.

The HSE has been informed that if they require this information, they must write directly to Fórsa stating the reasons for this information and we will consider this. Unless we provide a derogation, members are not to process this information.

The HSE has been informed of the process to seek derogation and should not pressure individuals involved in the industrial action to provide this. You should contact your local union representative in the first instance if you experience this.

It is agreed that staff will process all statutory/ legal data to the relevant authority, e.g., enquiries from Irish Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Board Ireland, CORU, etc.

HR and Finance processing in relation to payroll returns, absence recording (for payroll purposes only) and recruitment set-ups should continue.

Members have been instructed to withdraw from all national committees. Should your manager require your attendance they must seek a derogation from the union dispute committee. Unless this is provided you should not attend.

There are approximately 1000+ agency staff within the clerical, admin and management grades. Members should continue to work with agency staff as normal within the confines of the work to rule instruction.

Members are being instructed not to engage, report to, meet or provide any information to external private management consultants or HSE advisors (this does not mean medical consultants).

The only exception to this instruction is where a third party has been agreed with Fórsa then our cooperation should continue (e.g. Trust in Care investigations, grievances etc). If you are unsure about whether to engage with someone, please seek advice from your local union representative before proceeding.

Members are advised not to attend or participate in performance achievement/ management meetings or preparatory work for these meetings.

We have agreed with the HSE that members should continue to collate and prepare responses to Parliamentary Questions but have confirmed that these will not be submitted by our members until the industrial action is lifted.

Members should not engage in any discussions, or attend any meetings relating to a 7-day working week whilst under this union instruction.

The HSE has stated they will be writing to the unions to discuss proposals for extended working weeks and whilst we are under this union instruction we will not be engaging.

A derogation is an exemption from the work to rule /industrial action for a specified purpose. The Health and Welfare Divisional Dispute Committee overseeing the dispute will consider all derogations and decide whether the derogation sought meets the criteria set out in ‘A Framework for Dispute Resolution in the Health Services.’

A list of derogations granted by the dispute committee is available to review here. This list will be updated in real time as the Dispute Committee grant derogations.

The HSE has been informed of the process to seek derogations and should not pressure individuals involved in the industrial action to undertake a derogation at local level. You should immediately contact your local union representative, if you experience this.

List of Section 38 agencies:

1. Dublin Dental Hospital
2. Leopardstown Park Hospital
3. Royal Hospital, Donnybrook
4. Peamount Hospital Incorporated Orthopaedic Hospital
5. St Vincent's, Fairview
6. Our Lady's Hospital,
7. Crumlin Temple Street Hospital
8. Coombe Women's Hospital
9. Rotunda Hospital
10. National Maternity Hospital
11. St James' Hospital
12. Mater Hospital
13. Beaumont Hospital
14. St Vincent's University Hospital
15. Tallaght Hospital
16. St Luke's Hospital, Rathgar
17. Cappagh National Orthopaedic
18. St Michael Hospital, Dun Laoghaire
19. Royal Eye & Ear Hospital
20. National Rehabilitation Hospital
21. St John Gods - Multiple
22. Brothers of Charity Ireland - Multiple
23. Avista - Multiple
24. Cope Foundation
25. Carriglea Cairde Services
26. Aurora (St Patrick's Kilkenny)
27. Children's Sunshine Home(LauraLynn)
28. Cheeverstown House
29. Kare, Newbridge
30. Stewarts Hospital, Palmerstown
31. Muirosa Foundation (Sisters of Charity)
32. Sunbeam House Services
33. Our Ladys Hospice Harolds Cross
34. Central remedial clinic (CRC)
35. St Michaels House
36. Mercy University Hospital
37. Portiuncula University Hospital (HSE)
38. South Infirmary/Victoria Hospital

Fórsa have formally advised the HSE that any discussions on redeployment  / reconfiguration will require consultation centrally with the Union. Members should not engage in any such conversations locally. You can read the letter from Ashley Connolly to the HSE here:

Have you thought about joining the union? Your colleagues are fighting hard for your rights. The more people who join, the more strength we have. It’s never been easier to join Fórsa.

Once your membership has been ratified, you must follow the work to rule instruction.

You should contact your local branch. If you are unsure of who to contact, please contact your closest Fórsa office:

• Cork 021 4255 210 forsacork@forsa.ie
• Limerick 061 319 177 forsalimerick@forsa.ie
• Galway 091 778 031 forsagalway@forsa.ie
• Sligo 071 914 2400 forsasligo@forsa.ie
• Dublin Head Office: 01 8171500 healthandwelfareinfo@forsa.ie

There’s never been a better time to join a union, and it’s never been easier. Join Fórsa today.