Health service staff working after retirement age could face pay cuts
Siptu claims staff could lose increments if re-hired on new fixed-term contracts
Nurses who opted to work beyond 65 were exempt from these arrangements under a separate agreement with the Government.
Many health service staff potentially face losing thousands of euro in income if they continue working beyond the age of 65 under new Government measures, Siptu has claimed.
The trade union said that under rules in place at present, most of its members seeking to remain in their jobs after turning 65 would be moved down to the first point in the pay scale. Nurses who opted to work beyond 65 were exempt from these arrangements under a separate agreement with the Government.
Siptu has warned the HSE of a potential dispute and plans to start a national campaign aimed at protecting the pay of these health workers.
The Government decided in December to allow staff across the public service to work until they are 70 if they wish to. Legislation will be required to give effect to the new arrangements.
In the interim, the Government decided that special arrangements could be put in place for those in the public service who reached the age of 65 after the December 5th decision to extend the compulsory retirement.
The Department of Public Expenditure said the interim arrangements, which used existing retire and re-hire arrangements in the public service, would permit public service personnel originally taken on before 2004 who turn 65 to remain in employment cut only until they are 66 – the age of eligibility for the contributory State pension.
“The general policy across the public service is that, where a retired employee is re-hired, they are paid at the minimum point of the relevant scale, rather than at the pay point they had reached when they retired,” the department said.
“This practice is continuing in the context of the interim arrangements. As the persons concerned will have retired and attracted pension benefits, pension abatement rules will apply in the case of a public servant availing of the interim arrangements.”
Pension abatement means that a pension that has been awarded will be reduced so that the person concerned will not receive more in combined pension and salary payments than they would have if they had remained working.
The department said it was not intended that the practice of payment at the minimum point would apply to public servants who choose to remain beyond the age of 65 once the legislation is commenced.
Siptu strongly criticised the Government’s current position, saying its members were, like many workers, “severely impacted by their future eligibility to contributory State pension scheme which is due to be set at 68 in the very near future”.
“As such, many workers throughout the public service are trying to maintain their financial security by opting to apply to stay in their post beyond the age of 65,” Siptu health organiser Paul Bell said.
He said it was “absolutely scandalous” that workers would have to “endure the indignity of signing a one-year fixed-term contract as a new entrant and have their incremental point reduced to point one of the pay scale”.
He said it was “completely false” to say that these workers were also entitled to receive their pension while signing on to the one year fixed contract.
Under arrangements introduced in 2016 and 2017 due to recruitment difficulties, nurses and midwives who returned to work after retirement could be remunerated at the incremental point they were on when they left the system up to the long service increment point on the staff nurse scale.
The HSE said at the weekend that its national human resources division was currently “engaging with the relevant operational services delivery units to ascertain if additional exceptions are in place”.