Friday 24 November 2017

HSE rehired staff keep pension, salaries

Martin Frawley

NURSES and doctors who are re-hired by the HSE through a private agency will be able to keep their pension and salary.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin told the Dail's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that extending the pension abatement rule to cover agency workers as recommended "is unworkable from a practical perspective".

Under the pension abatement rule, public service pensioners who are subsequently re-hired directly by the public service have their pension deducted from their salary so they cannot earn more than when they working before retirement.

But Mr Howlin explained that where a private agency employs an individual, the HSE contract is with the private agency and not the individual.

According to the HSE's latest figures from April, it estimates it will spend €223m this year hiring staff through an agency – up from the €215m it spent last year. The HSE was unable to say how many of its agency workers were retired HSE staff with a pension.

At a PAC hearing on the issue last year, Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald said it seemed logical that at least a proportion of the staff who retire would find their way back in – and therefore we would have the scenario of people on full pension also in receipt of a salary from the HSE – albeit through a third party.

The HSE's chief operating officer, Laverne McGuinness, said that it was "conscious of the issue". She said the HSE had been in contact with the agencies in an attempt to discourage the practice. But she added that legally, they could not prohibit them going back via an agency. Then HSE chief executive, Cathal Magee, said it "must find a resolution to the issue":

Irish Independent

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