Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (160)

Clare Daly


160. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures he plans to take to address the pension entitlements of female civil servants who left the workforce in job-share arrangements to care for their children and have lost out on full pension entitlements even though many women that stayed at home full-time have had their pension paid as a result of the homemakers credit system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25345/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

First, I should clarify that the civil service worksharing scheme allows the individual to avail of a variety of attendance patterns so as to be able to combine work and personal responsibilities or choices. Thus, it does not involve leaving the workforce. The career break scheme, on the other hand, gives the individual the possibility to take special leave without pay for a variety of reasons, including for family and other domestic reasons.

On the matter of pension entitlements, the Deputy will appreciate that the terms of occupational pension schemes (both private sector and public service pension schemes) are separate and distinct from the conditions laid down by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to the State Pension (contributory).

For example, it is a fundamental feature of occupational pension schemes and of the regulatory framework within which they operate that pension entitlements are, in general, earned in respect of periods of paid employment and having regard to the amounts of remuneration earned. The State Pension (contributory), on the other hand, has regard to each person’s social insurance record, which may include periods in insurable employment, voluntary contributions and credited contributions.

Any attempt to insert home credits into the civil service pension scheme (and into public service occupational pension schemes generally) would run counter to fundamental principles underpinning those schemes and would represent a very substantial cost to the State.

I would also point out that civil servants have the option to purchase notional pensionable service at full cost to themselves and subject to the normal purchase scheme limits, including compliance with Revenue limits in relation to the obtaining of tax relief on their purchase contributions, and so may compensate in this way for any shortfall in their pension as a result of having participated in the worksharing or career break schemes.

In relation to the Single Public Service Pension Scheme, which is the career average defined benefit pension scheme applicable to most new entrant public servants from January 2013, arrangements to facilitate the purchase of Single Scheme benefits additional to the benefits accrued based on pensionable remuneration earned by the Scheme member, have recently been introduced.