Irish Water staff bonuses ‘jarring’, says Alex White

Some senior managers at the company can earn a 19 per cent top-up

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White. File photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White. File photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

A senior Government minister has said the idea of pay bonuses for staff working in Irish Water even when those staff were not performing was “jarring” for members of the public.

Irish Water has defended its bonus payment scheme after it emerged that some senior managers at the company can earn a 19 per cent top-up on their salary . The company’s wage structure includes a performance-related payment for staff and those rated “need improvement” are still entitled to a bonus of between 1.5 per cent and 9 per cent of their salary, depending on grade. Senior management whose work “far exceeds expectations” will receive a 19 per cent bonus.

Speaking in Dublin today, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White said: “With regard to commercial semi stage bodies the question of the pay structure of staff at organisations like Irish Water itself is not for the Government, apart from of course the pay structure of the chief executive, otherwise the matter is for Irish water itself.

“It’s a matter for Irish Water but if you ask me, personally I think the idea of a bonus for someone whose performance needs to be improved is a little jarring for me and the public,” he added.

Those whose work “meets expectations” are entitled to a bonus of between 2.75 per cent and 14 per cent, and where performance “exceeds expectations”, the bonus will be between 4 per cent and 17 per cent depending on grade. The rewards model used is the same as the one at Irish Water’s parent company, Ervia, formerly Bord Gáis.

Irish Water is overseeing the introduction of water charges in Ireland for the first time. The issue has caused controversy and has seen large street protests as a deadline for registering with the utility approaches.

It emerged at the weekend that Irish Water is to apply call-out fees of €188 for the first hour when repairing a suspected leak on a householder’s property and €94 an hour thereafter. Out-of-hours charges will be higher, at €282 for the first hour and €141 thereafter.

In a statement issued last night, Irish Water said their pay model would result in “a performance driven organisation culture, consistent with best practice for commercial utilities” and would save the company €34 million over four years.

A percentage of salary is “at risk” for each employee and full salary can only be achieved if performance targets are met, the statement said. It also said a 19 per cent bonus could only be achieved in “exceptional cases and entirely at the discretion of the company”.