Saturday 22 July 2017

Explained: Everything you need to know about the Public Service Pay Commission report

The report says security of tenure has a value but no “satisfactory scientific evidence” has been identified that could be used to give it a monetary value. (Stock photo)
The report says security of tenure has a value but no “satisfactory scientific evidence” has been identified that could be used to give it a monetary value. (Stock photo)

Anne-Marie Walsh

The Government asked the Public Service Pay Commission to examine state workers' pay and advise it on unwinding emergency legislation used to cut their wages in its first report. The commission's chairperson is Kevin Duffy, and it has six members. They are Marian Corcoran, Ultan Courtney, Ruth Curran, Noel Dowling, Sean Lyons and Peter McLoone.

What does it say about pensions?

It found that public servants' pensions are worth up to 18pc more than private sector workers'.

But it found that fast-accrual pensions, where benefits accrue more quickly than for other public servants, are far more expensive than standard pensions. The level of additional cost varies depending on the scheme.

It also noted that most private sector workers have no pension. The report recommended that an increase in contributions is negotiated to be implemented as a pension levy imposed under emergency legislation, worth €720m a year, is phased out.

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It said it believed the value of legacy pre-2013 standard-accrual pension schemes and fast-accrual schemes should be addressed by providing for an increased employee pension contribution.

It said the rate of increase and the grades to which it should apply should be a matter for negotiation, taking account of the workers' benefits.

Who might face the highest contributions?

Most likely those on fast accrual schemes, due to the high value of their benefits.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the 23,000 workers on these schemes include the judiciary, members of the Oireachtas and ministers, gardaí, prison officers, fire officers, defence force personnel and certain designated officeholders.

These officeholders are the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ombudsman, the Master of the High Court, a county registrar, a member of the Labour Court, a member of An Bord Pleanála, a member of the Competition Authority, a director of the Environmental Protection Agency and a Revenue Appeals Commissioner.

What about pay rises?

The report said there are grounds - based on pay movements in the wider economy - for public service employers and unions to enter talks to extend the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

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It said wage hikes must be contingent on reform and improvements in productivity. It said a "critical factor" in any future pay agreement will be the State's ability to pay.

How much money does the Government have to spend next year?

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the fiscal space for next year is €500m when the carry-over of this year's Budget measures are taken into account.

Does it tackle the thorny issue of job security?

It doesn't address it in detail - the report says security of tenure has a value but no "satisfactory scientific evidence" has been identified that could be used to give it a monetary value.

How does it deal with recruitment issues?

It said there are problems regarding some specialist groups including the Defence Forces and groups whose skills are in demand internationally, particularly in the health sector, and some senior level leadership positions. It said 'flexibilities' around pay scales in specialist and scarce skills areas may need to be revisited. The report said these flexibilities included provision for starting above the minimum point of pay scales and allowing additional increments at certain points of scale progression.

How about the 15 million extra unpaid hours being worked?

The minister says these are here to stay. The report says they're a productivity measure agreed between the parties under the terms of a collective agreement, and not a provision of the emergency legislation which it was asked to discuss unwinding.

Irish Independent

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