Sunday 20 May 2018

Now State workers can retire at 70 to avoid dole

Photo: Provision
Photo: Provision

Anne Marie Walsh

Public servants will avoid having to sign on when they retire as the Government plans to let them work until they are 70.

But it has been warned not to leave private sector workers behind.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has promised legislation next year to push up the compulsory retirement age for State workers from 65 to 70.

This means that those who qualify for the State pension will not have to go on the dole for a year because it can only be drawn from the age of 66.

They will also avoid such a scenario in future years as the State pension age will rise to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.

But private sector workers who are forced to retire at 65 - most of whom do not have occupational pensions - will still have to rely on social welfare until they can draw the State pension.

Head of advocacy and communications with Age Action Justin Moran said the Government had increased the State pension age to 66 and therefore had an "impetus" not to leave the private sector behind.

He said legislation is currently stuck in the Oireachtas that would abolish mandatory retirement clauses, including in the private sector.

Mr Moran said dole payments are roughly €50 a week lower than the State pension.

"This announcement will mean nothing to many thousands of older workers in the private sector who will not benefit from these changes," he said. "They cannot be left behind and this is going to get more challenging as the State pension age increases. We would like to see the Government enable that bill to move forward."

When asked what can be done for such workers, Mr Donohoe said the Workplace Relations Commission is drawing up a "code of practice" for the private sector, which will include best practice in the management of industrial relations, including requests to work beyond normal retirement age.

In relation to the private sector, a department spokesperson said it recommended employers should take steps to ensure their policy on retirement age is clearly articulated.

It also recommended a code of practice on longer working is drawn up.

Mr Donohoe said the Government can only set terms and conditions of employment in relation to its own employees.

He said public servants who are obliged to retire at 65, but are not eligible for the State pension until their 66th birthday, were experiencing "difficulties".

"Many pensioners feel that they have earned their pension and should not have to sign on as a jobseeker in order to receive a portion of it," he said.

Irish Independent

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