Guidelines on Departmental Internal Mobility – Action 15

Dear Colleagues

Action 15 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan responds to the need to create a Civil Service with more flexible and open structures and processes. It aims to improve how the Civil Service matches skills with roles by enabling greater mobility and flexibility across the workforce, resulting in managers having better access to available skills and staff having better opportunities to develop their own skills and experience.

As you will be aware a commitment was made by the Civil Service Management Board that departments will develop and publish an official internal mobility policy in line with the attached Guidelines.  You are encouraged to publish your internal mobility policy in tandem with the launch of the Service Wide Mobility Scheme which is anticipated in mid-2017 (further communication will follow closer to this date).

The Guidelines are underpinned by:

  1. The agreed CSMB guiding principles for Civil Service mobility policies (see Appendix B of Guidelines);
  2. Best practice across the Irish Civil Service (with strong input from the HR Working Group which included Personnel Officers/HR Managers from departments/offices); and
  3. Best practice across a number of European Civil Services.

The Guidelines are aimed at promoting mobility as an important aspect of staff development and embedding a culture of mobility in the workforce planning of each Department.  They provide direction on:

  1. The benefits of internal mobility;
  2. The role of the stakeholder;
  3. What an internal mobility policy could include; and
  4. Governance and Operation.

It should be noted that any new/revised internal mobility policy will only incorporate staff mobility within a location (locations will be defined by the Service Wide Mobility Scheme).

The Guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive. It is recognised that internal mobility policies cannot be the same in each department due to the diversity in size and business strategies and it is suggested that you develop a policy that suits your department’s needs.

Cultural change takes time to implement and requires strong commitment and engagement between all staff members and management.  The aim is to achieve a workable balance between mobility and stability in order to avoid unnecessary business disruptions.

The results of the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey in 2015 (involving over 15,000 civil servants), indicate that a mere 37% of civil servants feel that they have an opportunity to be moved throughout various positions in their department in order to broaden their experience and develop a range of skills.  The perception of a lack of mobility opportunities needs to be addressed in order for the Civil Service to achieve higher levels of staff engagement, staff development, staff wellbeing, attraction and retention.

Other arrangements under Action 15, which respond to the need to create a Civil Service with more flexible and open structures and processes, are:

  • Pilot of Service Wide Mobility Scheme: Phase 1(a) of the Scheme will be piloted in (a) Cork City and (b) Wexford Town (including Johnstown Castle and Rosslare Harbour) and is due to ‘go live’ on 1 February 2017.  The pilot will be live for a limited period of time and applications remaining at the end of the pilot will not be integrated into the Service Wide Mobility Scheme.  (Further details of the Service Wide Mobility Scheme and the Pilot are available on
  • Service Wide Mobility Scheme: This Scheme will be phased in, with Phase 1 focusing on general service grades up to and including EO level for (a) mobility within single locations, and (b) mobility between locations.  Phase 2 will include general service grades up to and including Assistant Principal.  The launch of Phase 1 of the Scheme is anticipated in mid-2017 with Phase 2 to follow.  [Equivalent Professional and Technical grades are not covered under the early phases of the Scheme and consideration will be given to mobility for these grades at a later date.]
  • PO Mobility Scheme: This Scheme launched in July 2015. Its aim is to create a more flexible and unified Civil Service. This Scheme provides a framework within which mobility at PO level can be facilitated and managed.
  • Senior Public Service Mobility: The Initiative was launched in 2012 and provides an opportunity for Assistant Secretaries to move laterally into positions that can further support the delivery on priorities set out in the Programme for Government, Public Service Reform Plan and Civil Service Renewal Plan.

If you would like to provide feedback directly to me on the implementation of these Guidelines please email


David Cagney

Chief Human Resources Officer for the Civil Service

 4th January 2017