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Factsheet for measure IE-2021-1/1851 Updated – measures in Ireland

New public service agreement concluded against background of pandemic

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 January 2021 – 31 December 2023
Context COVID-19, Digital Transformation
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Remuneration and rewards for workers in essential services
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 12 April 2021 (updated 07 July 2023)

Background information

A new public service agreement was agreed between public service unions and management in December 2020. It was ratified in February 2021 by a majority of trade unions on the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, following ballots of their members.

The "Building Momentum" Agreement follows on from a number of public services agreements concluded in the last decade and is an extension of the framework of public service agreements. The previous agreement, the Public Service Stability Agreement (2018 - 2020) which is due to expired on December 31st 2020.

The negotiation of this agreement "took place against a difficult economic and fiscal backdrop, in a landscape dominated by the twin challenges of Brexit and the COVID-19 public health emergency". It acknowledges the considerable economic fallout from COVID-19 and the unprecedented investment in health and other public services, social protection measures and business supports.

The objectives of the Agreement are:

  • To support broader strategies to bring about a post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
  • To provide certainty and stability for the Government, public service users and public servants over the lifetime of the Agreement.
  • To establish a normalised collective bargaining environment, moving beyond the FEMPI-era restrictions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To maintain the momentum of reform and change exemplified by the public service during this public health emergency.

Content of measure

The following pay increases will apply over the period of the Agreement:

  • A general round increase in annualised basic salary for all public servants of 1% or €500, whichever is greater, on 1 October 2021.
  • The equivalent of a 1% increase in annualised basic salaries to be used as a Sectoral Bargaining Fund, in accordance with Chapter 2 of this Agreement, on 1 February 2022.
  • A general round increase in annualised basic salary for all public servants of 1% or €500, whichever is greater, on 1 October 2022.

The Agreement reflects a commitment by the parties to harness the momentum for change to meet the immediate challenges that present in the lifetime of the Agreement, and to prepare for future challenges.

This includes:

  • Continuing the public service response to COVID-19, consulting and preparing for the safe and regulated distribution of vaccines, and returning to the normal delivery of health services that were interrupted by the need to respond to the pandemic.
  • Accommodating the potential of remote working where appropriate in line with the Programme for Government and establishing the public service as a driver of best practice in this area.
  • Addressing the challenges presented in the public service by digitisation and other new technologies, including the need to retrain, recruit, retain and develop a high performing workforce.
  • Sustaining an agile public service that is responsive to the changing needs of citizens, communities and businesses.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

23 June 2023

A review of the Agreement extended it until 31 December 2023 and added the following pay terms:

  • 3% with effect from 2nd February 2022
  • 2% with effect from 1st March 2023
  • 1.5% or €750 a year (whichever is the greater) with effect from 1st October 2023.

Use of measure

The agreement covers all workers in the public service.


  • Basic working time
  • Employment retention
  • Other topics
  • Pay increases
  • Training and employability
  • Work organisation
  • Working time flexibility

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Workers in essential services
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Social partners jointly
Trade unions
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Informed
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level


Public service unions negotiated the agreement which was then balloted on by members of individual unions.

Views and reactions

The team of four ICTU negotiators said that Building Momentum: A New Public Sector Agreement represented a positive short-term package, negotiated against a difficult background, to build on the momentum of recent pay restoration and public service flexibility and service quality.

They said the package, which would run from 1st January 2021 until 31st December 2022 if ratified, was substantially weighted towards lower-income civil and public servants, and had achieved solid progress on the three priorities set by the PSC at the outset of the talks. These were (1) a mechanism to address issues outstanding from the Haddington Road agreement, (2) a separate mechanism to address sectoral issues, and (3) a realistic and acceptable approach to pay.


  • 11 December 2020: Public service unions and employers agree proposals for a two-year agreement (
  • 11 December 2020: Minister McGrath welcomes proposals on a new collective agreement for the public service – Building Momentum – A new Public Service Agreement 2021 - 2022 (
  • 11 December 2020: Building Momentum - A New Public Service Agreement 2021-2022 (
  • 23 February 2021: Public service unions ratify new pay agreement (


Eurofound (2021), New public service agreement concluded against background of pandemic, measure IE-2021-1/1851 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.