Written Answers. - Pension Provisions.

Michael Ring

Question:

981 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has to improve the pension entitlements of teachers who have been employed on a substitute basis for years (details supplied), particularly those teachers who have worked on a substitute basis for over 30 years. [19321/00]

Teachers who have been employed for years on a substitute basis only would generally be unqualified teachers. Furthermore, employment as a substitute will, of its nature, be for intermittent periods during which, for example, the teacher who is being replaced is on sick leave.

Membership of the teachers' superannuation schemes is open to teachers who are in permanent or quasi-permanent employment and who are fully-qualified. A teacher who is timetabled for the full duration of the school year in any one school for class contact time of at least nine hours per week in the case of a post-primary school or two days per week in the case of a primary school is regarded as being in quasi-permanent employment.

Exceptional arrangements have been made for the admission of a small number of unqualified teachers in eligible part-time posts to membership of the teachers' superannuation schemes. The exception was made on the grounds that the teachers in question have been in part-time employment of a quasi-permanent nature for many years and that the quasi-permanent employment commenced more than one year prior to the introduction of the eligible part-time scheme in 1988.

Apart from this exception, which applies to a very small and reducing group of teachers, there are no plans at present for the admission of unqualified teachers to membership of the superannuation schemes. The position of teachers who are not in quasi-permanent employment will, of course, be reviewed in the light of the provisions of the Part-Time Workers Bill when that Bill, which is being introduced by my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Mary Harney, is enacted. That review will not affect the position of unqualified teachers.

The superannuation schemes make provision for the purchase for pensions purposes, once a teacher has been admitted to membership of the schemes, of periods of previous employment in a substitute or part-time capacity.