HSE gets 1,000 inquiries about redundancy offer
More than 1,000 inquiries about the voluntary redundancy and early retirement scheme on offer to 28,000 staff have so far been made.
A Health Service Executive (HSE) spokesman revealed the level of interest among administrative, clerical and support staff in the €400m scheme aimed at cutting up to 5,000 jobs.
He said the HSE acknowledged staff needed support in making such a life-changing decision about whether to leave their jobs.
"As a result, a comprehensive staff information programme is under way to accommodate any queries that might arise," he said.
"A dedicated information line has been opened for staff. In addition, staff can access information on the HSE's websites."
Many are expected to hold off on making an application until the IMPACT trade union receives a reply from the Labour Relations Commission, which it wants to examine the scheme.
The union has called on the industrial relations body to intervene urgently because of the November 19 deadline set by the HSE as the closing date for applications.
Those who apply must give a decision by November 30 and have left their posts by the end of December. The hope is that up to 5,000 mainly managerial and clerical staff will leave.
Unions, however, are urging their members to take a cautious approach. They want the Labour Relations Commission to look at the information available to HSE workers and also a probe of management proposals to address gaps in the system that will emerge after the departure of so many staff.
The largest payouts will be to highly paid managers who can receive generous redundancy cheques now and a lump sum on reaching retirement as well as a generous pension.
Those over 50 years of age who opt for the early retirement package get their lump sum and pension immediately, opening up an attractive prospect for better paid staff.
Certain safeguards have been made to ensure that those who leave do not return as employees in the public service or take up lucrative contracts as consultants.
A specific condition for those who avail of the voluntary early retirement scheme is that they will not be eligible for re-employment in the public service or any body wholly or mainly funded by public money.
The same bar applies to those who take the voluntary redundancy, but it will expire after seven years, after which employment, even on a contract basis, in the public service will need the go-ahead of the Finance Minister.