Northern Ireland Civil Service Handbook

The NICS Handbook includes a current set of HR and pay policies.

What is the Handbook?

This Handbook is issued under the authority of the Civil Service (Northern Ireland) Order 1999, by which the Department of Finance is responsible for the general management and control of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS).

The Handbook, which has been agreed or where appropriate has been subject to consultation with the relevant Trade Union Sides, sets out regulations and instructions to departments and agencies regarding the terms and conditions of service of Civil Servants. Where an agency has taken operational responsibility from its Core Department for a personnel function described in a particular section of this Handbook, the references in the Handbook to ‘Department’ should be read as referring to ‘Agency’. The provisions of the Handbook, unless otherwise indicated, apply to both non-industrial and industrial staff (but see paragraph 4 below).

The NICS Staff Handbook replaces the NICS Pay and Conditions of Service Code (the Code) and appropriate Civil Service Circulars and Industrial Civil Service Circulars unless otherwise stated. It is therefore based upon:

  • the prevailing terms and conditions of service as contained in the Code, together with certain other matters not wholly related to terms and conditions of service, but of which members of staff need to be kept aware and
  • legislation which binds the Crown, or which although not binding on the Crown, Ministers have undertaken to apply as binding

There are a number of areas where the Department of Finance under the Civil Service (Management Functions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1994, has delegated its management and control function to certain departments (and onwards to agencies) to allow them to develop their own procedures and practices. 

Where a department or agency, following negotiation or consultation with the relevant Trade Union Side, has exercised a delegation to change the conditions of service of its staff, the relevant paragraphs of this Handbook will not apply to those staff. In such cases, the staff concerned will be advised of the terms and conditions which are applied by their department or agency (by means of a Departmental or Agency Handbook or other readily accessible document) and which areas of the NICS Staff Handbook do not apply to them.

It follows, therefore, that the provisions of this Handbook do not apply in those areas where a department or agency has promulgated alternative arrangements.

Subsequent changes to the central agreements, regulations and instructions will be publicised through amendments to this Handbook, following negotiation and/or consultation with the relevant Trade Union Sides, and will need to be brought promptly to the attention of the staff concerned. In all cases, the Department of Finance will make clear the effective date of any changes.

Areas covered by the handbook:

  1. Joining and Transferring
  2. Leaving the Service
  3. Leave and Attendance
  4. Recording, Reporting and Planning
  5. Learning and Development
  6. Employee Relations
  7. Health and Safety
  8. Pay and Reward
  9. Travel and Subsistence
  10. Performance Management
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