Retiring teachers will be allowed to finish school year
TEACHERS who quit their jobs to take early retirement in February will be allowed to go back to school to take their Leaving and Junior cert classes through the rest of the school year.
But the teachers who retire early and then return will not go back into the classroom at their old salary -- instead, they will work at the lower starting rate introduced for new staff last January as part of government cutbacks.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is relaxing the early retirement rules to minimise disruption to students doing the state exams in June in advance of the flood of teachers expected to apply for the retirement package.
Second-level school managers and principals had warned of the potential for disruption if significant numbers of teachers retired at the end of February and had sought an extension of the scheme beyond February.
Ferdia Kelly, general secretary of the Joint Managerial Body (JMB), which represents more than 400 secondary schools, welcomed the minister's move, but said more may have to be done depending on the numbers who retire.
While the greatest concern is for the exam pupils, schools are also worried about the impact on all students of a mass exodus of established teaching staff.
Under the Croke Park agreement, public servants who retire before the end of February 2012 will have their pension and tax-free lump sum based on their 2009 salary, which was before the public sector pay cut.
From March 2012, any public servant who retires will have their pension and tax-tree lump sum based on their current reduced salary.
In one example, a teacher with 34 years' service, on a salary of €69,459 before the 2009 pay cut, could go at the end of February on a lump sum of €88,655 and a pension of €28,322.
If that same teacher waited until next August, the lump sum -- based on the reduced salary of €65,000 -- would be €84,093 and the pension would be €28,031.
Pay for those returning to finish out the year would be based on the first point of the new, reduced salary scale for teachers of €27,814.
It is not known yet how many teachers are likely to retire, and many are currently weighing up their options.
All those interested in taking the package have been advised that they must give three months' notice, which fixes the end of November as the deadline for applications.
Mr Quinn signalled his plans to allow teachers to return to finish the school year in response to a parliamentary question from independent TD Finian McGrath.