10 July, 2019 - Department of Education and Skills issues surveys to schools on secretaries and caretakers

The Department of Education and Skills has today (Wednesday 10th of July) issued short online surveys to schools on secretaries and caretakers employed by them and paid by grant funding. 

These surveys are being undertaken in response to a pay claim that has recently been tabled by FÓRSA. As is standard practice, the full current cost of this claim to the public pay bill must be established. The Department is not the employer of the staff covered by the claim so the new surveys are needed in order to gather the relevant information. 

The Department last surveyed schools on this matter in 2009. Since then, an arbitration pay agreement has been implemented for the staff concerned, which provided for a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 and a minimum hourly pay rate of €13. This arbitration agreement runs until 31 December 2019.  

The surveys will issue to over 3,500 individual schools. Given the scale of the task and the fact that schools are in the summer holiday period, the Department expects to have analysis from the surveys available in early October. 

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. said: “I have met many school secretaries and I have some understanding of the issues in relation to their employment conditions. I have also heard what the union representatives have had to say. 

“This survey is an important part in properly understanding the conditions they work under and the full current cost of the union’s pay claim.” 

The closing date is Wednesday 4 September and the Department is encouraging all relevant schools to complete the surveys before that date. 

Links to the surveys are available to schools on Esinet. The surveys are password protected and further details are available from each school’s management body, or by contacting esrsurvey@education.gov.ie 

Notes to Editor 

  1. There are two surveys available for completion by each Board of Management (one for secretaries and one for caretakers and available in Irish and English). The surveys have been kept deliberately short, and are available to schools online to ensure ease of access and a higher return rate.
  2. The surveys are being issued to primary, voluntary secondary and community and comprehensive schools. Secretaries and caretakers in education and training board schools have different pay arrangements, so FÓRSA’s current claim does not cover them.

  3. The surveys are open from today, 10 July, 2019 until Wednesday 4th September, 2019.
  4. FÓRSA’s current claim has been tabled as a follow-on claim from the current pay agreement for this cohort of staff (Arbitration Agreement of 2015) which lasts until December 2019.

  5. That agreement was designed to be of greatest benefit to lower-paid secretaries and caretakers. For example, a secretary or caretaker who was paid the then minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in 2015 prior to the arbitration is since 1 January 2019 being paid €13 per hour which is a 50% increase in that individual’s hourly pay. 
  6. All schools have been advised to ensure that the agreement has been fully implemented in respect of any secretaries or caretakers employed by the Board of Management and paid through grant funding.

  7. The Department attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on 9 April 2019 to discuss the status of non-teaching staff. A report on this matter will be prepared by the committee.
  8. Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of clerical officers and caretakers in schools.  Beginning in the early 1990s, those schemes have been superseded by the more extensive capitation grant schemes. 
  9. The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools now receive assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services under these grant schemes.  It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the grant funding for caretaking or secretarial purposes, any staff taken on to support those functions are employees of individual schools.