Unions have strongly criticised finance minister Paschal Donohoe for refusing to help public servants recently forced to retire at age 65, but who were retained in work on diminished pay and pension arrangements. The decision was communicated to unions last month.
The limited interim arrangements had been put in place following the Government’s 2014 decision to raise the state pension age from 65 to 66. This meant that civil and public servants who depend on the state pension for a large part of their retirement income faced a huge gap in the first year of retirement.
Many took up the temporary fix of being re-hired until they were eligible for the State pension. But those who exercised this option were placed on the first point of the non-pensionable pay scale, and were not able to make further pension contributions.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions had urged Donohoe to give the staff concerned the option of extending their 12-month retention arrangement up until age 70, and to get increments due to them during this period.
Late last year, the Government bowed to union pressure and legislated to give civil and public servants the option to remain in employment up to age 70 if they chose.
The legislation also required the finance minister to outline potential remedies, within three months, for public servants who had been forced to retire between 6th December 2017 and the commencement of the new law. But the minister has opted to do nothing for them.
“As a result we have a cohort of people who wished to extend their working life, but cannot do so simply by virtue of the date of their 65th birthday,” said Fórsa official Billy Hannigan.
Public servants recruited after 1st April 2004, but before January 2013, were not covered by the new legislation because they already either have no compulsory retirement age or the ability to retire up to age 70.