Department of Health secretary general pay to rise by over €90,000

New pay rate of €292,000 set for vacant job to be filled by open competition

The Department of Health on Dublin’s Baggot Street. File photograph: Bryan James Brophy/The Irish Times

The Department of Health on Dublin’s Baggot Street. File photograph: Bryan James Brophy/The Irish Times

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The Government has approved a pay rise of more than €90,000 for the position of secretary general of the Department of Health, making the person to be appointed to the role the highest-paid civil servant in the country.

The post, which is being advertised by open competition, is to attract a salary of €292,000 per annum.

Earlier this week, the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Robert Watt was appointed as interim secretary general of the Department of Health pending the competition.

Robert Watt is currently acting secretary general at the Department of Health. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Robert Watt is currently acting secretary general at the Department of Health. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Mr Watt is being paid his existing Department of Public Expenditure salary of €211,000 per year.

Under current salary regulations in the Civil Service there are three pay rates for secretaries general of Government departments; grades I, II and III, with grade I being the highest paid at over €211,000 per year. The grade I secretaries general are currently in the Department of An Taoiseach, Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure.

Up to now the secretary general post in the Department of Health has not been considered to be in the top tier.

However, on foot of the Government decision there will now be a fourth and more highly paid post as secretary general in the Department of Health, at least for the five -year duration of the term of the new post.

Up to now the post of secretary general of the Department of Health attracted a salary of just over €201,000.

However, while the person appointed as secretary general in the Department of Health will be the highest paid civil servant in the country, there are higher pay levels in place in parts of the broader public service.

It is understood that the new salary of €292,000 for the Department of Health post is being set at the level of governor of the Central Bank.

The head of the HSE Paul Reid is paid close to €350,000 per year.

The Department of Public Expenditure said on Friday the role of secretary general of the Department of Health was a highly complex one with a very challenging brief, particularly so in the midst of a global pandemic.

“The role which will be filled through an open and competitive process, will require an individual with the ability, ambition and experience to take on this large portfolio with a department of almost 600 staff and 19 bodies under its aegis, including the HSE. The increased salary for this role for a five-year term, is deemed to be commensurate with the scale of the responsibilities, including the vaccine rollout in the immediate term and the challenges of implementing the Government’s ambition for the rollout of SláinteCare and the budget of €21 billion for Health.”

The Department of Public Expenditure said that the salaries for other secretary general positions in the Civil Service had not changed.