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The Acting-Up Agreement

Persons filling posts in acting capacity

Dept of Finance guidance note

on implementation of the agreement reached

at the General Council Sub-Committee on Decentralisation

on 10 March and 18th April, 2005



At the sub-group of General Council on 10 March last, the official side said that they were prepared to agree that –


“where somebody in receipt of an acting-up allowance had applied under the CAF before 7 September 2004 and had been on the allowance for two years when he or she transferred to another Department for the purposes of decentralising they should be promoted in their parent Department and transfer in that grade”.


Subsequent to this agreement, it has come to light that Departments have two main categories of people in acting positions. 


Category 1 – Staff appointed to fill a post in  the higher grade on an acting-up basis for a period prior to actual promotion – some Departments have had a policy of initially filling vacancies by appointing people on an acting-up basis rather than by making a substantive promotion.  When the next vacancy in the grade in that Department arises, the officer who is acting up is promoted in a substantive capacity and another person assigned on an acting-up basis to that vacancy. 


Such acting appointments normally take place following a competitive selection procedure and Departments and Offices are reminded that promotions should be merit based.  The competitive selection procedures used may take the form of competitive interview, competitive assessment on the basis of seniority and suitability, or other appropriate assessment system agreed with local staff interests.


Category 2 – Higher duties or acting up allowances – these are intended to be temporary in nature of periods less than two years and should only be used to fulfil a particular business need e.g. the completion of a specified task, filling in for a higher officer on long-term sick leave, etc.  When the business need is ended the allowance should cease.


It is clear from the official minutes that the discussion at the sub-committee was primarily focused on the position of people in a number of Departments who were filling posts on an acting-up basis prior to promotion  (i.e. where a number of posts at the levels concerned were normally filled in this way prior to definitive promotion).


However, it appears that management practices in relation to the acting-up arrangements vary across Departments leading to some blurring of the distinction between the two categories. It is also clear that there are a number of officers on higher duties allowances for more than two years.


To ensure consistency of implementation of this agreement across Departments, the Department of Finance wishes to clarify the following points:


  1. The purpose of the agreement is to ensure that individual officers who have opted to decentralise with another organisation while serving in an acting capacity are not unreasonably disadvantaged arising from their decision to decentralise.
  2. The agreement is intended to apply to officers who are serving in an acting-up capacity for a period of two years or more immediately prior to decentralisation. 
  3. It is not intended to apply to temporary arrangements of less than 2 years.
  4. The agreement of 10th March, 2005 therefore applies definitively to officers in category 1 above.  The agreement may further apply to officers in category 2 above where the assignment was made following a competitive process or otherwise in accordance with the Department’s agreed internal promotion procedures to the satisfaction to the Head of Personnel.
  5. The agreement will apply to all CAF applicants irrespective of the date of application following agreement at the subgroup on 18 April.
  6. The agreement will apply only when the officer is to be transferred to another Department for the purposes of decentralising and the location in question is undersubscribed at the higher grade.
  7. The agreement will apply to staff remaining in Dublin who are not opting to decentralise where they must relocate to another Department within Dublin.
  8. The agreement confers no entitlement on staff in provincial locations who are not opting to decentralise.
  9. The promotion shall be made by the department who has sanctioned the acting up arrangement and shall count as an internal promotion in the promotions sequence.

 The use of acting-up or higher duty allowances, over the shortest timeframe possible, should be confined to circumstances where an absolute business and strategic need has been clearly identified.  Departments and Offices should accordingly actively review and manage these arrangements in line with best practice.