Teachers seeking pensions upgrade for those appointed since 2013

Changes introduced in 2013 aimed at saving Government billions over coming decades

An actuarial review published by the Government in December 2017 maintained that the State overall had an accrued liability of about €114.5bn in respect of retirement benefits.

An actuarial review published by the Government in December 2017 maintained that the State overall had an accrued liability of about €114.5bn in respect of retirement benefits.

 

Teachers are urging the Government to upgrade pension arrangements for those appointed in recent years.

Unions maintain that changes introduced in 2013 by the Government mean there has been “substantial deterioration” in pension benefits for teachers appointed since that time.

The move will essentially open up a new front in the debate over equality between recent entrants to teaching and longer-established colleagues.

The unions’ calls are likely to be to be resisted strongly by the Government given that changes introduced in 2013 are aimed at generating savings of billions of euro in pension costs in the decades to come.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) at its conference in Galway said all three teaching unions would be seeking an immediate pension scheme review for teachers appointed in recent years.

“Teachers have always paid for, and continue to pay for, their pension schemes through deferred income payments. This deferred pay ensures teachers have an income to sustain them in retirement. Teachers are paying more into their pensions than ever before due to the permanent additional superannuation contribution which came in under the Public Service Stability Agreement. This means teachers are now paying up to 17 per cent of earnings towards their retirement. However, the entitlements under the career average pension scheme have been diluted considerably.”

The INTO said a new scheme introduced in2013, which means benefits are linked to career average payments, “eroded the value of teachers’ pensions”.

The general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, Kieran Christie, said those who entered teaching since 2013 were “paying a similar amount into their pension as their teacher colleagues (who entered the profession earlier), but their pension benefits are significantly inferior”.

The Government believes the changes introduced at that time will make the State’s multibillion public service pension bill more sustainable over time.

What are the pension schemes?

An actuarial review published by the Government in December 2017 maintained that the State overall had an accrued liability of about €114.5 billion in respect of retirement benefits for current and former public service employees which it will have to meet in the decades ahead.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said at the time that the Single Public Service Pension Scheme introduced from 2013 “will, in time, reduce liabilities by around 35 per cent from what would otherwise have been the case”.

The pension schemes available to public service personnel recruited since 2013 and those in place before then are defined benefit – offering certainty to the amounts the employee will receive in retirement.

However, under the 2013 scheme the pension benefit is based on average earnings over their career, not final salary prior to retirement. At the same time pension increases under the 2013 scheme are calculated in line with the consumer price index, not on pay rises awarded to those still in employment.