Average pay for Section 39 staff cut by 4.6% after crash, audit finds

Restoration of pay to workers in voluntary bodies could cost €67.8m, HSE estimates

A majority of State-funded voluntary bodies and agencies providing health and social care reduced staff pay during the austerity years, a pilot study carried out by the HSE suggests.

An analysis of cumulative pay for staff in each of a group of so-called Section 39 bodies examined found that pay cuts averaging 4.66 per cent were put in place for employees in 2010, the audit found.

The HSE audit also says that it would appear that some of the Section 39 organisations had begun a process of pay restoration .

The analysis of cumulative pay for staff in the group of Section 39 organisations examined indicates that there had been an average increase in basic pay of 3.64 per cent last year.


The HSE agreed to carry out the audit of a group of Section 39 organisations in February as part of a move to avert a planned dispute by several thousand staff in these bodies over pay restoration.

Siptu, which represents many of the staff, said those working in many Section 39 organisations experienced pay cuts similar to those imposed after the economic crash on public service personnel working in agencies offering similar services.

However, Siptu maintained that unlike public servants working in the health and social care sectors, those in Section 39 organisations have not been offered pay restoration proposals.

Not covered

The Department of Health and the HSE argued that staff working in Section 39 organisations were not public servants and are not covered by public service pay deals.

The pilot study looked at pay in a group of about 50 Section 39 agencies of which 41 returned answers with varying degrees of disclosure.

“Based on information provided in 38 assessable agency returns, the HSE made an assessment for expected pay restoration costs of €34.439 million.”

However, the audit says there were a number of assumptions made in drawing up this estimate. “Scaling these costs up to include the 50 pilot organisations, the projected cost estimation is €37.735 million.

“Applying the same allocation method to the total 302 agencies which hold service level agreements would amount to €67.881 million.”

The pilot study says that from an in-depth analysis of the returns it is evident that each Section 39 agency differed greatly in their approaches to implementing pay redeuctions. Measures for restoring pay was also applied at different intervals by the agencies.

“It is necessary that each organisation is assessed on a case by case basis as the circumstances unique to each one is critically assessed and measured in terms of the pay reductions applied and any restoration that may have been affected,” it says.

“It is proposed that each agency submits a short form application for pay restoration in 2018. This application form will be provided by the HSE and require an affidavit attachment ,signed by the chairman and one board member. The submitted application may be subject to audit for verification before any pay restoration is approved.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent