Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (355)

Catherine Martin


355. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a situation in which SNAs who were eligible to retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year but chose to continue working had a reduction in pay to the lowest scale when returning to work in September 2018; his plans to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19578/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

It is understood that the question from the Deputy refers to those Special Needs Assistants who had a compulsory retirement age of 65; who reached that age at the end of the 2017/18 school year and who availed of an interim arrangements to be rehired. This interim measure was introduced from 5 December 2017 on foot of a Government Decision pending the enactment of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018. The Act provides for a new compulsory retirement age of age 70 for certain public servants recruited before 1 April 2004; who had a compulsory retirement age of 65 and who had not reached that age when the Act took effect on 26th December 2018.

In the education sector the terms of the interim arrangements were set out in my Department’s Circular 27/2018 which issued in April 2018. The terms of the retention, to which the participating public servants signed up, included that the person be placed on the 1st point of the appropriate salary scale which is in line with existing policy for the rehire of retired public servants. Similar to other school personnel who opted for rehire under the interim arrangements, the retention of pre-2004 Special Needs Assistants under this arrangement is for a maximum of one year to the end of this school year. Special Needs Assistants having reached the compulsory retirement age in 2018 received their retirement lump sum and an annual pension is payable, subject to pension abatement rules, during the period of rehire.

The 2018 Act provided that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a Report on those pre-2004 public servants who were required to retire due to reaching age 65 in the period of the interim arrangements from 5 December 2017 to 25 December 2018 and on potential remedies to assist them. This report was laid before the Oireachtas on 26 March 2019. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has decided not to make any change to the terms of the interim arrangement. This in effect means that the current employment of Special Needs Assistants, and other education sector personnel, who availed of the interim arrangement at the end of the 2017/18 school year must finish at the end of the current school year.