In March 2020, organisations were asked to identify staff at all grades who were not working on essential
services or engaged in critical business continuity work at the time. These staff were required to register
their details on an online TAS portal, set up under the scheme and administered by the PAS.
Organisations requiring staff from the scheme contacted the PAS directly and staff were formally reassigned
via an agreed process (agreement between an employee and receiving organisation). PAS conducted a skills
and location match where required. All staff remained on the payroll of their parent organisation, and
managers were advised to maintain a level of contact during the assignment.
These arrangements were put in place against a background of exceptional risk to the public service’s ability
to respond to the need for critical patient care and essential services posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The
public service came together and worked in a unified way.
This availability of staff from across the public sector provides a key assurance to the health service and
other public service bodies that, should it be required, they could draw upon to support in their efforts to
combat COVID-19. The TAS panel can be scaled up or down as necessary.
While this panel is currently scaled down, the policy and process will continue to be used to help ensure
critical services continue to be delivered during this unprecedented time. The PAS may periodically issue
detailed requests to organisations seeking employees who are deemed to be releasable for the scheme in
the context of their business continuity plan.
What results: what were the benefits of the solution, how does it work in practice, lessons learnt
At its highest point there were 6,000 staff registered (within a four week period) for the scheme. The panels
reduced as the immediate crisis abated and departments and sectors gradually moved back to a more
‘normal’ work pattern. In the end less than 100 staff were taken from the panel, this was due to:
(a) the diligence of the Irish people which resulted in the anticipated surge being flattened,
(b) the interventions taken pre-TAS policy where significant; redeployment had already taken place across
all sectors and departments, for example, Health Service Executive (HSE) redeployed 5,000+ staff internally,
(c) the TAS policy facilitated the ‘bi-lateral’ movement of staff prior to the actual TAS panel being set up in
the PAS, where the initial focus was on contact tracing where 1,800 staff trained across all sectors and up
to 700 staff deployed on a weekly basis at the start of the crisis. Within the Civil service, over 300 staff were
also assigned at that time to the Department of Employment and Social Protection, and
(d) there was also a call out to the public at large via a HSE on-line portal.
In September 2020 we delivered on another request for contact tracing Phase 2 providing 50 staff from the
The HSE, via budget 2020, have also upscaled their recruitment drive recognising that COVID-19 will have a
longer permanent impact on the numbers required in the health service.
We are continuing to work with the PAS, the HSE and other front line organisations to collectively review
the Scheme to determine its use for current and future demands.
The key lesson learned from the exercise is to ensure that the assignment of all processes should be
coordinated to avoid duplication of effort with the ideal being a single system, i.e. the TAS or something
A big win from this policy is that for the first time we now have a scheme that facilitates the movement of
identified staff across the civil and public service into crisis positions, which can be activated as needs arise
during this and any future pandemics.