Public service pension deadline extended

Unions and HSE had both sought changes

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin was warned by unions of significant implications for services and organisations if large numbers of senior staff departed at the same time.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin was warned by unions of significant implications for services and organisations if large numbers of senior staff departed at the same time.

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 01:00

The Government has extended the deadline for staff in the public service to retire if their pensions are to be calculated on the higher salaries in place prior to the cuts introduced under the Hadddington Road agreement last year.

The Cabinet decided yesterday that the original deadline of August this year is to be extended to the end of June of 2015.

The move will benefit staff across the public service earning more than €65,000 a year who had salary cuts imposed under the Haddington Road agreement on pay and productivity last year. Public service trade unions and the HSE had both sought changes to the original “grace period “ deadline of next August.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions warned Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin in recent weeks of significant implications for services and organisations if significant numbers of senior staff departed at the same time before the current “grace period” expires.

Sound reasons
In a letter to Mr Howlin several weeks ago, secretary of the public services committee of Ictu Tom Geraghty said it believed there were sound reasons to extend the current grace period. “In the absence of an extension there will be a significant haemorrhage of experienced public servants, causing disruption to service delivery and causing a loss of historic memory in key operational and policy areas.”

“As this grace period is only relevant to staff who are earning above €65,000 per annum, the implications of its early termination are focused on managerial and skilled specialist categories.”

The Irish Times reported in February that the HSE was also unhappy with the original deadline.

HSE director general Tony O’Brien said the HSE had suggested that the ending of a grace period that resulted “in a significant number of staff leaving the health services on a single day or a single month could have adverse consequences for the health service”.

Grace period
He said the HSE would prefer if a grace period did not expire in the second half of the year as it would already have paid staff the bulk of their annual salary and then have to fund retirement lump sums and pensions.
The HSE had told the Government it would like arrangements under which the exact day of departure for staff could be staggered by management over three or four months.

A spokeswoman for Mr Howlin confirmed last night that the Cabinet had agreed to extend the grace period to June next year.