The Government is to legislate to allow non-commercial semi-state workers who are currently obliged to retire at age 65 to opt to stay in work longer. Once enacted, the law will give public servants recruited before 1st April 2004 the option to retire at any time up to age 70.
The new arrangements will benefit those who must currently retire at 65, but who depend on the state old age pension for part of their retirement income. They have faced a problem since the state pension age was increased from 65 to 66.
Semi-state workers recruited after 1st April 2004 are not affected because they either have a retirement age of 70 already, or they have no compulsory retirement age.
Press reports last November predicted that the new measure would mean a compulsory increase in the retirement age for all non-commercial semi-state staff. It does not.
Fórsa had been campaigning to resolve the plight of workers who are forced to retire at age 65, but who cannot access the state pension until they are 66. Discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform took place under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), which was backed by the union’s members in ballots last year.
Pending the enactment of legislation to introduce the change, unions and management have agreed limited interim arrangements to allow semi-state staff who want to stay in work until the state pension age to be re-hired. Under these interim arrangements, workers can retire and receive their lump sum, before being re-hired in their current role.
However, they will be placed on the first point of the non-pensionable pay scale, and they will not make further pension contributions. Although this arrangement is not ideal, it means that public servants won’t be forced to retire before they are due payment of their full pension.