Promotion in the Civil Service

Promotion in The Irish Civil Service
There are two routes to promotion:

  • External via the Civil Service-wide promotion process, and
  • Non-External via the promotion processes within individual Departments.


The recruitment, assessment and selection body for the Civil Service is the Public Appointments Service (PAS). They advertise and arrange:

  • Open Competitions (open to existing Civil Servants and non-Civil Servants)
  • Special Open Competitions relating to specific groups e.g. disabled persons
  • Confined competitions which are open to existing Civil Servants only.


An interview-based system operates for promotion. This comprises of a competency-based competitive interview, for all grades up the level of Principal Officer.

Cross-Stream Promotion in the Civil Service

In July 2011 the Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA) issued a report in respect of eligibility criteria for promotion of staff in the Civil Service. The CPSA report recommended that:-

“in establishing eligibility criteria for promotions to positions in the Civil Service, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform removes any criteria that may prevent Civil Servants with the requisite knowledge, skills, experience and attributes from applying for these positions.”

The implementation of the CPSA report was considered by the Official and Staff side at a sub-committee of General Council. Agreement between the parties on the arrangements to apply to future promotion competitions was recorded at the General Council meeting of 27th November 2013. These new arrangements are designed to ensure that the pool of suitably qualified candidates competing for promotion roles is not restricted on the basis of their current salary band. In summary, whereas previously eligibility for promotion was generally based on a defined period of service in the grade immediately below that of the post to be filled this will no longer be the case. The new arrangements provide that where a post is to be filled by way of promotion, the relevant job descriptions and person specifications should set out:-

(a) the purpose and deliverables required for relevant positions or grades; and

(b) the experience, knowledge and skills required of a candidate to be suitable for consideration for appointment to the position or grade.

A copy of the CPSA Report and a letter to Personnel Officers with General Council report 1526 can be seen in the Related Topics box.

Top Level Appointments Commission

The selection process for senior appointments at or above Assistant Secretary level or equivalent is conducted by a Top Level Appointments Commission.

Further information in relation to the TLAC is available here

Circulars 34/96, 32/91, 33/99 and 17/03 refer.

Starting Pay on Promotion

The rules governing starting pay on promotion to a higher grade are set out in Circular 34/77 refers – Starting Pay on Promotion or Establishment. Civil Servants promoted through internal confined competitions are entitled to the more favourable of the following:

  • The minimum point of the new scale.
  • Pay equivalent to their existing pay, including their accrued increment on the current scale, if any, plus an immediate increment on the new scale.

Civil Servants recruited from external competitions under Public Appointments Service (PAS) are entitled to the more favourable of the following:

  • The minimum point of the new scale.
  • Pay equivalent to their existing pay including any accrued increment.

Personal enquiries from individual officers should be referred to the officer’s own Personnel Section.