Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (171)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

171. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the provisions contained in the Public Service Retirement Age – Report to Oireachtas 2019 in respect of public servants forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018; the reason for not making changes to the arrangements of those working under the interim arrangements who will be forced to retire when they reach 66 years of age; his views on whether those affected are not being treated on an equal basis to their colleagues that can stay working until 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16134/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

On 5 December 2017, the Government made the decision to increase the compulsory retirement age to 70, for public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004. Primary legislation was necessary in order to bring that change into effect. It was made clear at the time that until such legislation was enacted, the compulsory retirement age of 65, which applied to the vast majority of this cohort, remained in effect and pre-2004 public servants reaching that age would be required to retire.

Interim arrangements were provided for the cohort of public servants who reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 after the Government Decision because, while they would be aware of the Government’s decision, they would be unable to avail of it. Those arrangements, clearly conveyed to all concerned, permitted these individuals to be rehired post-retirement for a period of 1 year until they reached the age of eligibility for the State Pension (Contributory). Without that specific arrangement, they would have been required to cease working on reaching the age of 65.

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 was enacted on 26 December 2018. Under the Act, any relevant public servant who had not already reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 before that date has a new compulsory retirement age of 70. Enactment of the legislation had no effect on those public servants who retired at 65 prior to the 26 December 2018 and who availed of a one year contract under the interim arrangements. The terms of their contracts continue to apply and they will cease working when they reach the age of 66.

Section 3 of the 2018 Act also provides that I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, within three months of the passing of the Act, would prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act, due to reaching the age of 65 years, and on potential remedies to assist this cohort of worker. This Report was laid before the Oireachtas on 26 March 2019 and is publicly available on the Oireachtas and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform websites.

Having considered all of the issues in the Report, I am satisfied that the interim arrangements were an appropriate temporary policy response at the time of the Government Decision pending enactment of the legislation. The terms of those arrangements were clear, unambiguous and made known to those who availed of them. Accordingly, for all the reasons set out in the report, I do not propose to make any changes to those terms.