The employers of the home helps concerned are funded by the HSE under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004, which provides that the Executive may assist a body that provides a service similar or ancillary to those which the Executive itself may provide. The staff of these employers are not public servants and their pay and superannuation arrangements are not subject to the control of my Department.
Access for Home Helps in non-public service voluntary organisations to a pension scheme, similar to that provided for Home Helps in the employment of the HSE, is a matter, in the first instance, for the relevant employer. Pension access for Home Helps directly employed by the HSE was addressed by my Department in 2005. Access to the scheme is strictly limited to staff employed directly by the HSE. It is not available to Home Helps employed by other bodies, who are not public servants.
In June 2009, following a hearing of union claims for access to a pension scheme for staff of voluntary home help providers, the Labour Court recommended that this issue should be dealt with by way of a Gratuity Scheme based on 4.5 weeks’ pay per year of service, and that the scheme should take effect from the date of the Home Helps’ Collective Agreement of August 2000. The funding of such arrangements is not, per se, a matter for the HSE and, given the budgetary constraints under which the HSE must operate, the Executive is not in a position to provide financial assistance towards such arrangements. This position was advised to staff representatives and the home help providers in February 2012.