Agency staff are employed from time to time in the public sector to meet particular service needs.
In general, the agency will be retained on a specific contract by the public service body to carry out the tasks required. In the light of that contract, the staff involved will be recruited and paid by the agency in the normal way. In short, the staff are legally employees of that company rather than the public service body itself.
In some cases, these agency staff may be in receipt of a public service pension arising from previous employment either in that particular body or elsewhere in the public service. However, as the employment relationship is between the agency and the individual employee rather between the individual and the public service body itself, there is no means of identifying employees in receipt of a public service pension and of applying the standard public service abatement rules. As the use of agency staff by the public service is most common in the health system, I have asked my Department to raise the issue with the Department of Health and to request that an examination be carried out by that Department of how it might be dealt with in the light of the employment relationship I have outlined above. I agree with the principle involved in the Deputy's proposal.