Roscommon County Council has been strongly criticised by the Public Service Oversight Body for failing to make sufficient family friendly arrangements available to staff under the so-called "flexi-leave" arrangement.

Members of the Forsa trade union at the council have staged two one-day stoppages over the refusal of management to permit members to work up extra hours so that they can accumulate up to 13 additional leave days per year.

The union argues that they were deprived of flexi-leave entitlements available to public servants in other departments or agencies.

However, Roscommon County Council Chief Executive Eugene Cummins countered that staff were seeking to build up those hours at times when there was no business requirement for them to do so and that the system needed to be managed efficiently.

He has previously stated that, for the last 17 years, council staff had worked additional hours "without permission or purpose" and when they needed to, rather than when the organisation needed them to do so.

In a memo issued to both sides this afternoon, the Chair of the Public Service Oversight Body Anna Perry said it was disappointing to note that over the past period of time, Roscommon County Council had not facilitated staff with the full suite of family friendly policies, particularly flexi-leave.

She said this non-availabilty was in contrast to the arrangements in other public service organisations tasked with the delivery of equally demanding front line services having regard to overall business needs.

Ms Perry noted that the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) - the successor to the Lansdowne Road public service pay agreement - provided that access to work life balance arrangements should be available to the greatest extent possible subject to normal service need requirements.

She said the situation at Roscommon County Council would be regarded as being at variance with the principles of family friendly policies in the public service and as a consequence would constitute a breach of such arrangements.

She has urged Forsa to suspend its industrial action upon confirmation that both sides are prepared to re-engage for three weeks under an existing pilot scheme process through the Workplace Relations Commission to ensure the full impementation of the PSSA agreed family-friendly policies.

Forsa official Peter Nolan said that further planned one day strikes at Roscommon County Council would proceed until members got confirmation that there would be a return to normal flexi-leave arrangements.

It is understood that Roscommon County Council is considering the view of the Public Service Oversight Body.

It is unclear when it will conclude that deliberation and, in the meantime, another one day stoppage by Forsa is set to proceed tomorrow.