As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 273 of 19 June last, the general policy with regard to the re-engagement of retired public servants is that staff should not be retained beyond retirement age and that any re-engagement should be kept as limited as possible and should be for a restricted period. Returns from across the public service indicate that approximately 7,900 public servants retired during the first three months of this year. The bulk of these retirements occurred prior to the end of the grace period on 29 February.
In any large organisation situations can arise in which short-term specialist input is required in order to complete a particular task. In many instances the most appropriate and cost-effective way of solving a short-term problem is to bring in someone who has worked in the area, who understands the background and who can do the work immediately.
Returns received by my Department indicate that since the beginning of the year - this is the important point - of the 8,000 who departed the public service, some 474 have been rehired. A total of 319 of these were teachers who were brought back to complete their work with students in examination classes and who are now no longer engaged. This means that just 155 public servants of the 8,000 who retired were re-engaged across all sectors. I understand that more detailed information will be supplied by individual Ministers in respect of their areas of remit.
The Deputy will also be aware that in accordance with the Pensions (Abatement) Act 1965, when an officer who goes on pension is retained in the Civil Service or re-employed within the service in a non-established capacity, his or her pension is, where necessary, abated - that is, reduced. Such pensioners may never earn more than they would have received if they had continued working. Where a person is re-engaged on a fee-paying basis, the abatement is applied to the fee itself. While this Act does not apply to the wider public service, it has been the norm that similar conditions apply there. Furthermore, I understand that retired civil and public servants are normally only re-engaged by their former, or other, Departments for very short periods, in the main, and for specific functions in respect of which their particular expertise is required. No civil servant who has retired from my Department during the past six months has been taken back onto the payroll.