More than 55,000 people may receive pension increase

Anomaly effectively penalised workers who opted out of the workforce for a time

Regina Doherty, Minister for Social Protection, said that her department had written in recent weeks to 79,000 people affected by the pension anomoly. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Regina Doherty, Minister for Social Protection, said that her department had written in recent weeks to 79,000 people affected by the pension anomoly. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

More than 55,000 people could receive increases in pensions as part of a Government initiative to eliminate an anomaly that effectively penalised those who opted out of the workforce for a period.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said her department had written to 79,000 people affected in recent weeks.

Speaking at an employment law conference in Dublin, she said about 70 per cent of those would receive increases.

Changes to how pension entitlements were calculated, which were introduced in 2012, particularly impacted on women who took time off to raise a family.

Last year the anomaly was described as “ bonkers” by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe when tackled on the issue by a caller to Seán O’Rourke’s programme on RTÉ Radio 1 the day after the budget.

New assessment

Ms Doherty said on Friday the new assessment would be carried out over a couple of weeks after Christmas.

“We are employing some new people so it will not be a lengthy process. We hope to have it completed by the end of quarter one with payments made, backdated and everyone on their new payments.”

Ms Doherty also said new legislation which she described as “ground breaking” to assist those on precarious work arrangements would come into effect early next year.

Before Christmas

She said there was real co-operation across all parties about the new measures and she believed it could be passed by the Oireachtas before Christmas.

She said the workers affected would be entitled to be placed in a band of hours that reflected their actual working arrangements over the previous 12 months.

“More importantly, if they are called into work and not given any work they will have to be paid three hours’ compensation.”