Irish News

Wednesday 23 July 2014

ESB staff get nicotine patches perk to help them kick the habit

Joanna Kiernan and Roisin Burke

Published 17/03/2014|02:30

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Bad addiction
ESB is helping employees quit smoking

Workers at ESB are getting help from their employer to give up smoking with the aid of subsided nicotine patches.

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According to its latest annual report, the utility company paid out €1,600 to help 40 smokers employed there to give up last year.

The ESB's subsidised nicotine patch scheme is just one of the company's 'health maintenance' programmes, which are complemented by monthly 'work-life balance' bulletins.

Other perks for staff include generous mobile phone allowances and half-price electricity.

The latest ESB annual report also detailed the expenditure of its board members, revealing that chief executive Pat O'Doherty and other directors spent almost €100,000 on expenses, including €49,828 on travel, and €21,783 on hotel accommodation and food and drink, with a further €4,009 spent on what was referred to as 'business entertainment'.

A total of €19,223 was also spent on subscribing to 'relevant organisations and publications'.

According to a spokesperson for the company, these expenses related to the 'normal business activity of the board'.

In addition to these expenses, a sum of €15,750 was paid to each of the ESB board members with the exception of Noreen O'Kelly, who waived her fee. Chief executive Pat O'Doherty's pay rose by over €6,000 from €258,950 due to a tax benefit. However, that's still a world away from the boom-time pay levels enjoyed by former chief executive Padraig McManus, whose remuneration was €750,000 a year at one point.

A pay-freeze agreement that applies to the majority of workers at the ESB is due to come to an end later this year.

According to the ESB, there is no subsequent agreement to replace the current pay-freeze, but the company hopes to reduce overall payroll by €140m by 2015.

Since 2011, electricity prices in Ireland have risen on average by 35pc.

Irish Independent

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