Thousands of ESB staff in line for €2,000 in bonus payments

Semi-state company is to spend more than €20m on vouchers for staff in recognition of cost-of-living pressures

The ESB is set to spend more than €20 million on gift vouchers for thousands of its staff in recognition of the cost-of-living pressures they are under, the company has confirmed.

The group employs over 8,000 people with 6,500 of them in line for two separate bonus payments worth €2,000 in total, one of which will be paid before Christmas with the second payment to be made early in 2024, The Irish Times has learned.

By splitting the bonus payments into two distinct vouchers, it means the bonus payments will be tax free to the ESB employees. The scheme has been approved by unions across the group.

In an e-tender document published on the Government’s procurement website, the ESB said it was seeking tenders for the supply of the vouchers which it has said will cost it an estimated €21 million.


Companies interested in supplying the digital vouchers have been given until early next month to stake their claim for the business with the vouchers to be issued in two lots over the contracted period, which is stated as 36 months on the tender document.

An ESB spokesman told The Irish Times that the company “recognises the impact the current cost-of-living crisis is having on our employees and we have agreed to make two voucher payments to our employees designed to go some way to meeting the financial challenges which [they] may face”.

The average ESB salary ranges from approximately €30,928 per year for Operations Technician to €76,379 per year for Asset Manager, according to a company posting on jobs website ESB Networks builds and maintains the transmission system, while Eirgrid, a separate State-owned company that is separate to ESB, manages the power flows, including electricity generated by each major facility.

The bonuses are to be paid following a period of sustained price volatility which have seen many domestic energy bills double.

While ESB subsidiary Electric Ireland recently announced it was cutting the price of its domestic electricity and gas by between 10 and 12 per cent, the company’s 1.1 million customers are still facing annual energy bills that are around €1,500 higher than they were just two years ago.

The higher prices are despite a dramatic decline in the average wholesale price of electricity with the costs faced by providers in Ireland per megawatt-hour during August put at €106.46, down 72 per cent from €387.63 in August of last year.

Last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed price cuts but called on them to further reduce gas and electricity prices for customers saying reductions of between 10 to 30 per cent did not go far enough.

The ESB Group is made up of ESB Networks, Electric Ireland, ESB International, ESB Telecoms, NIE Networks, Generation and Trading, eCars and ESB’s Smart Energy Services.

Last month, the group announced that its operating profits for the first six months of the year had jumped by 30 per cent climbing by €157 million to €676 million with revenues rising to €4.903 billion from €3.678 billion.

It said the increased profits were largely as a result of revenue generated by its operations in the UK.

The company has paid about €1.5 billion in dividends to the State over the past decade, including a €317 million dividend from 2022 profits. Dividends from its profits for the current year will not be determined for several months.

It reported lower Electric Ireland profitability in the first half of this year when compared with the same period in 2022.

ESB’s generation and supply businesses are required to operate separately, so profits from ESB’s generation business cannot be used to offset costs incurred by Electric Ireland.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast