Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Questions (192, 194)

Seán Fleming

Question:

192. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of agency and contract staff currently employed under the aegis of her Department; the mechanism in place for monitoring and managing the associated costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10986/13]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

194. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline the numbers and cost of agency staff under the aegis of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11065/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 and 194 together.

In March 2012, one member of staff in the Department, the Chief Medical Advisor, was re-hired on a temporary contract on a payscale of €93,197 to €113,503. Payment of his pension is abated pending the termination of his temporary contract. The decision to re-employ the Chief Medical Advisor was taken due to his specific skills and his involvement in the policy reform of the illness related schemes, the difficulty and long lead-in time for replacing his skills, and the critical importance of ensuring continuity and a high level of service to customers of the Department.

There are currently 262 temporary clerical officers employed in the Department. Temporary clerical staff are recruited to cover absences of permanent staff on maternity leave, long term sick leave, other statutory leave and also to provide cover for some staff availing of the shorter working year scheme. They are also recruited to alleviate work pressure in certain areas, and to assist in the roll out of the Public Service Card project. Temporary contracts are offered for a specific timeframe or fixed purpose and the term can vary according to the purpose of the contract. The contracts are kept under review by the HR Division and are terminated when the purpose for the contract has ceased. Some of the costs involved in the recruitment of temporary staff can be offset, for example, where permanent staff avail of certain unpaid statutory leave such as the shorter working year scheme or unpaid leave; or where staff on long-term sick leave are on a reduced salary.

The Citizens Information Board (CIB) currently has five temporary clerical officers assigned to provide general mortgage information and advice. The costs of their salaries are being met by the mortgage lenders. The CIB also has one agency staff member (0.5 full time equivalent) on an annual salary of €16,158.

The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman currently has one temporary clerical officer assigned.

The Pensions Board currently has seven staff members employed on fixed term contracts, all of which will expire in the last quarter of 2014. In addition, the board currently has one temporary member of staff covering a staff absence.

Temporary clerical officers are paid on a weekly pay scale ranging from €421.92 to €680.62 for staff employed in the public service prior to 1/1/2011 or €379.72 to €612.56 for new entrants employed from 1/1/2011.