Tuesday 24 October 2017

State pays more than €40m to re-hire retired public servants

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

HUNDREDS of retired public servants have been re-employed on temporary contracts while still holding on to their lucrative state pensions.

The Irish Independent can reveal today how government departments and state agencies have hired retired staff over the past three years at a cost of more than €40m.

The bodies involved include the HSE, gardai, the Courts Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The average value of the temporary contracts in 2010 was almost €10,000, which each retiree received on top of their pension.

This is the first time that details of payments to retired civil servants have emerged.

The Department of Finance confirmed last night that pension entitlements would only be affected if between their pension and extra work, the retiree earned more than their final salary in a year.

The revelations stemmed from an Irish Independent analysis of accounts of 41 government departments and agencies, submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General between 2008 and 2010.

The figures show that the HSE is the biggest re-employer of staff, and that the spend has increased six-fold in the past five years.

In 2005, it paid retired staff including doctors, nurses, dentists and administrators €2.5m. In 2010, the spending rose to €14.6m, and the agency has spent more than €38m since 2008. The investigation also reveals:

• Since 2008, the cost of re-hiring staff has reached €41.4m.

• The practice continued last year, with at least six agencies confirming they had employed former staff at a cost of more than €200,000.

• The highest-spending government department between 2008 and 2010 was Justice, which paid out almost €1.5m.

• Some 74 people were employed in 13 government departments and agencies in 2010, earning an average of €9,900 each.

• One former official was paid €35,723 by the Department of Communications for their expertise in the area of mining.

A number of bodies last night argued that retirees were re-employed because of their particular skills and experience.

The Courts Service said it used "retired, experienced" staff to conduct internal audits to ensure courts were being properly run, and that they were paid about €150 per day. This compared with a bill of up to €800 which would apply if private sector auditors were employed.

The Department of Finance said it engaged five former officers to work on various issues including the Banking Commission and the independent review of the department.

Gardai used civil servants to sit on interview panels and act as examiners.

And the Department of the Environment hired 11 officers to sit on expert groups and conduct value-for-money reviews.

The Valuation Office said that one officer was employed while a replacement was being trained.

However public sector trade union IMPACT said it was better to employ people "than bring someone back from retirement".

Irish Independent

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