As Minister of State with responsibility for defence I take the welfare of members of the Defence Forces very seriously. The Defence Forces have a range of personnel supports in place to assist individuals who are experiencing difficulties. This includes social workers who provide very valuable supports and services. The circumstances in which personnel find themselves in economic difficulty can vary significantly and the State also provides a range of supports for individuals and families, should this be required. Members of the Defence Forces experiencing difficulties are assisted in accessing these supports.
The salaries of all public servants were reduced in the aftermath of the economic crash. Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with the public service pay agreement. The focus of increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay. The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the agreement. Increases due to date under the agreement have been paid to the personnel of the Permanent Defence Force. Further increases in pay are scheduled for later in 2019 and 2020. By the end of the current public service pay agreement, the pay scales of all public servants, including members of the Permanent Defence Force, earning under €70,000 per annum will be restored to pre-financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled in the agreement.
Pay rates for newly qualified members of the Defence Forces are comparable to other areas within the public service, having regard to entry requirements. A newly qualified three-star private can expect to earn €27,759 gross per annum, including military service allowance but excluding duty allowances. This starting pay is subject to incremental progression and increases to €38,388 per annum at this rank. A range of duty allowances are also payable.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
A newly qualified school leaver entry officer can expect to earn €35,614 gross per annum, inclusive of military service allowance, after initial training. A graduate entry officer can expect to earn €40,566 gross per annum, inclusive of military service allowance, after initial training. The maximum for the lieutenant pay scale is €50,645 per annum, inclusive of military service allowance.
These earnings relate to Army line ranks. In many cases Air Corps and Naval Service personnel receive additional remuneration per equivalent rank arising from additional allowances for duties performed. Defence Forces personnel also receive tax free payments for certain overseas deployments and duties.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Defence Forces are experiencing recruitment and retention challenges. This is reflective of the economic growth that has been experienced under the current Government and the associated buoyant labour market. The Public Service Pay Commission has been tasked with examining recruitment and retention challenges in the Defence Forces. The Minister for Finance and for Public Expenditure and Reform will bring that report to Government in the near future.