Fifth Guiding Principle – Voluntary Severance Arrangements


This Guiding Principle deals with issues of voluntary severance (Redundancy).

Guiding Principle

While noting the Executive’s commitment to make every possible effort to avoid redundancies, the Commission recognises that when the review of Public Administration is fully implemented, there is expected to be an overall requirement for fewer staff than are currently employed in the RPA Affected Group. The Commission recommends that a core aspect of how Government manage this position should be through the use of voluntary severance arrangements where there is a justifiable need to reduce staff numbers and a willingness amongst staff to participate in such schemes. The Commission considers that the avoidance of compulsory redundancy is a necessary requirement to ensure the smooth transfer of staff to new organisations. The Commission recommends that the employers in the RPA Affected Group should identify staff who are at a clear risk of compulsory redundancy. This will enable the Executive, employers and the Trade Unions to focus their efforts on those staff who are “at risk” and to define the arrangements, such as a clearing house mechanism, to be implemented as a means of avoiding compulsory redundancies.

The Commission also recommends that the arrangements for implementing this Guiding Principle and Associated Recommendations be the subject of consultation and negotiation with Trade Unions and other representatives of staff.

Associated Recommendations

The Commission recommends that:

  • Consideration be given to organisational structure and staffing requirements well in advance of the creation of the new organisations
  • Where justified, voluntary severance arrangements, should be applied within each sector well in advance of the appointed date of the transfer of staff. In compliance with statutory obligations such arrangements should not necessarily be restricted to the RPA Affected Group.
  • Staff should be provided with information on a personal basis to help them plan for the future and be advised as soon as possible if they have been approved for a voluntary severance package. Employers should also ensure that staff affected by the application of voluntary severance arrangements are provided with high quality support on matters such as careers advice, skills analysis, training for new careers and financial planning.
  • In applying Voluntary Severance Schemes, the Commission recommends that the Executive and employers should confirm their commitment to apply Public Service Commission recommendations consistently across all sectors. If, on a case by case basis, it is found that there is no occupational scheme available to staff or where such a scheme is significantly limited when compared with the mainstream occupational schemes available to other staff in their organisation or in the organisation to which they will be transferred as a result of RPA, the Commission recommends that the Executive should encourage employers, as a part of the normal industrial relations process, to consider any proposals to enhance these to the extent that this would be necessary to ensure consistency of treatment.
  • In consultation with sponsoring departments, where applicable, employers should seek to ensure that appropriate funding is available to facilitate voluntary severance arrangements.

Further Guidance/Information

The main issues arising from this Guiding Principle relate to Voluntary Redundancy/Severance and further information can be obtained from the following links:

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