Framework for future delivery of water services
ICTU Group of Unions
Frequently asked questions
Last updated 24th June 2022
In February 2021, the Government made proposals to establish a single water service authority for Ireland. This would see the end of existing ‘service level agreements’ between Irish Water and individual local authorities. It would also mean local authority staff working in water services would be needed in the new national water authority.
The ICTU group of unions in the sector have been in discussions in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), with the aim of amending the Government proposals to protect workers in any transfer of responsibilities from local councils to Irish Water. These discussions concluded on 23rd June 2022, when a ‘Framework for Future Delivery of Water Services’ was finalised.
The unions are also in ongoing discussions on:
- A constitutional referendum to underpin public control of water services
- Governance issues in the national water authority
- The renewal of the local government sector, including additional investment
- Whether or not the public service ‘additional superannuation contribution’ will remain in place for local authority staff who transfer to Irish Water.
These ‘frequently asked’ questions’ outline the main points of the proposals from a worker’s point of view.
What does the ‘Framework for Future Delivery of Water Services’ propose?
The framework will see Irish Water become the single national water authority from 1st January 2023. Between January 2023 and December 2026, a new Irish Water-local authority agreement will replace existing service level agreements (SLAs). It will provide for the transfer of the delivery of all water services to Irish Water, which will assume direct management of all water services staff from January 2023.
- There will be no compulsory transfers of staff to Irish Water
- There will be no compulsory redundancies
- Local authority water workers would have the option of transferring to Irish Water on a voluntary basis. Staff who transfer to Irish Water would receive an incentive payment, and their existing pay and conditions, including pensions, would be protected
- Local authority water workers could also opt to remain in local authority employment on their current terms and conditions of employment
- There will also be a voluntary redundancy option for local authority water workers.
Can I continue to work in my local authority?
You can continue in local authority employment. But Irish Water will have responsibility for managing and directing water workers even if they remain in local authority employment.
And, by the end of 2026, local authorities will no longer be involved in the public water system and staff would be reassigned to suitable vacancies in other areas of council work. Training and development will be available to help workers transition to new roles.
The option of transferring to Irish Water will remain until the end of 2026.
Can I remain working in local authority water services?
For the time being, yes. But Irish Water will have responsibility for managing and directing water workers even if they remain in local authority employment. And, by the end of 2026, local authorities will no longer be involved water services, so staff will have to transfer to other suitable local authority roles. The option of transferring to Irish Water will remain until the end of 2026.
Will my terms and conditions change if I stay in my local authority?
No. Your existing terms and conditions are guaranteed.
Will I be forced to transfer to Irish Water?
No. Nobody will be forced to transfer to Irish Water. But if you stay with your local authority, you will eventually be transferred to a role outside of water services.
Will I be asked to transfer to Irish Water?
Until the end of 2026, all existing local authority staff will be able to transfer to Irish Water, as permanent employees, on a voluntary basis. If you transfer, you will be guaranteed:
- Security of tenure. In other words, your job is guaranteed
- Full protection of your existing pay and working conditions, with additional pay benefits
- Legal protection of your existing pension benefits, with all your local authority service taken into account for pension purposes
- An incentive payment
- All your local authority service taken into account if you opt for voluntary redundancy
- Collective bargaining rights. In other words, your union will continue to negotiate your pay and conditions.
What will I be paid if I move to Irish Water?
In no circumstances will you earn less than you currently earn in your local authority.
You will be able to choose from two separate pay models:
Pay model A
- You will transfer with the same rate of pay and allowances as you have now
- There will be no reduction in your expected future earnings
- Pay progression will be negotiated in the established way with the Irish Water Group of Unions
- Engineering, technical and managerial staff will also benefit from non-pensionable annual performance related awards, based on individual performance targets, from the time you become an Irish Water employee
- General operatives, craft workers, and caretakers will also benefit from non-pensionable annual performance related awards based on collective measures – like health and safety, leakage reduction, and outage duration – from the time you become an Irish Water employee
Local authority pay structures will be assimilated onto the Irish Water pay structure after one 1 year. There will be no loss of earnings.
Pay model B
You can opt for pay model B, which mirrors local authority pay structures and agreements. You would continue to benefit from pay increases negotiated under public sector agreements. You would stay in the local authority pay model until retirement, unless you choose to join the Irish Water pay model (see ‘pay model A’ above). You would benefit from the once-off incentive (see below), but not from the performance related awards described in ‘pay model A’.
What about allowances?
Allowances currently held by local authority water workers will remain unchanged.
What about pensionable overtime?
Existing pensionable overtime arrangements that apply to local authority water workers will remain unchanged.
What about my pension?
If you transfer to Irish Water, your pension benefits will be guaranteed in legislation (under the Water Services (No.2) Act 2013). You will transfer from your existing local authority scheme to the Irish Water defined benefit scheme, and your pension benefits will be no worse, and no better, than if you stayed with your local authority.
What about hours of work?
Your working hours will remain the same.
What about my holiday entitlement?
Your holiday entitlement will remain the same.
What about other non-pay benefits?
If you transfer to Irish Water, you will benefit from:
- Sick leave arrangements of six months full-paid sick leave plus a further six months on half pay
- An income protection scheme
- Death-in-service benefits
- Further education assistance
- An employee assistance programme
- A digital doctor
- Access to group health care schemes.
Is there a financial incentive on offer?
Yes. Local authority staff who transfer to Irish Water before the end of 2026 will receive a once-off incentive payment of €3,000 (gross).
There will be no incentive payment available after the end of 2026.
Will my work location change if I transfer to Irish Water?
Staff who transfer to Irish Water will not have to change their place of work unless they apply for promotion to a position based elsewhere. But you will be able to ask to move to another Irish Water location on a voluntary basis.
Will my role change if I transfer to Irish Water?
Only “minimum” changes in your role will be allowed and the proposal says it’s intended to fully use the skills, knowledge, and experience of all water services staff, who will have specific roles in Irish Water.
Can I opt for voluntary redundancy?
There will be a voluntary redundancy option for local authority water services staff who are eligible for transfer to Irish Water. It will be available to staff who are below pension age at 30th June 2024, and who have a least two years’ reckonable service at that date.
The scheme will pay:
- A severance payment of three weeks’ pay per year of actual service, plus statutory entitlement of two week’s pay per year, subject to an overall limit of:
a. Two years pay; or, if less,
b. one-half of the salary payable to preserved pension age.
2. Your preserved pension and lump sum when you reach pension age.
The scheme will be open between 1st March 2024 and 30th June 2024, with departures taking place by 30th September 2024. (The departures may be delayed by three months in exceptional operational circumstances).
If you take voluntary redundancy, you won’t be eligible for employment in – or a contract of service with – a local authority, Irish Water, a public service body, or an agency wholly or mainly funded by the State – for two years.
There will be no compulsory redundancies.
Will the framework be implemented in full?
The framework says there must be ongoing engagement with unions regarding implementation. It also contains a mechanism for dealing with disputes over implementation.
What happens next?
Each union will now bring the framework document to the relevant committees in their union structure, and the ICTU group of unions meet again to decide how best to provide further information to workers.
Irish Water is not expected to seek interaction with local authority workers until September.
Read the full ‘Framework for Future Delivery of Water Services’ HERE.
DISCLAIMER: This document has been produced for information only and is not a legal interpretation of the Framework for Future Delivery of Water Services.