Northern Ireland Civil Service lifts recruitment and promotion freeze

Malcolm McKibbin tells staff 17-month embargo on new hires is over, after around 3,000 staff quit service via Voluntary Exit Scheme


By Jim Dunton

07 Apr 2016

The head of Northern Ireland’s civil service has told staff that a pause imposed on recruitment and promotion imposed in November 2014 is now over.

In an e-mail to Northern Ireland’s roughly 27,000 civil servants this week, Malcolom McKibbin said it was vital that the service, which operates separately to the home civil service, was able to “fill future vacancies as they arise”.

The announcement suggested that around 3,000 staff had taken advantage of a voluntary exit scheme (VES) run by the Northern Ireland Executive, but prompted requests for further detail from public services union NIPSA.


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Union general secretary Alison Millar said that while the announcement was a “welcome development”, questions remained about the impact of the departmental restructuring underway in Northern Ireland that will see the number of departments reduced from 12 to nine. The move was mandated in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

“NIPSA is acutely aware of the impact VES has had on members andwith almost 3,000 posts out of the system this is having a significant impact on the delivery of service,” she said.

“Members are reminded that this is a health, safety and wellbeing issue and members should not take on additional work because of the impact of VES.”

She added that McKibbin’s communication said lifting the embargo was unlikely to result in a significant number of staff being posted quickly from existing lists and that there was not likely to be an immediate high volume of new recruitment and promotion competitions. 

“NIPSA have sought a meeting to clarify the issues that this raises,” she said.

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