Wednesday 21 March 2018

Top civil servants to lose exit deals but get new jobs instead

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

TOP civil servants will lose gold-plated exit deals when their contracts are up -- but they are guaranteed a new job on the same pay and conditions.

Secretaries general will now be offered new positions at the same grade, which currently stands at €200,000, at the end of their term, which is typically seven years.

The new deal replaces lucrative severance packages -- including a €713,000 deal enjoyed by former secretary general Dermot McCarthy -- which caused political outrage earlier this year.

However, four secretaries general appointed since the Government came to power will escape the new regime announced by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin yesterday.

They include Robert Watt, who was appointed to Mr Howlin's department.

And county managers will get the same perks for the time being, although Environment Minister Phil Hogan has promised to axe them.

Mr Howlin said the measures would generate big savings for taxpayers. But any savings will be reduced because the taxpayer will continue to pay the wage of the former secretaries general in their new roles.

The Irish Independent has also learned that one of the lucrative extras -- a special severance payment -- will still be offered to attract private sector candidates to high-level jobs.

There has never been a private sector appointee as head of a government department.

Under the new terms, a private sector appointee will now be entitled to a 'special severance' sum -- worth up to a full year's pay -- when their contract expires because they would not be guaranteed a new job in the public sector.


The full year's pay is double what secretaries general had been getting under the old deal.

The old perks -- known as Top Level Appointments Committee terms -- had been provided to secretaries general for more than 20 years.

They were mysteriously drawn up by a Fine Gael/Labour coalition in 1987 in a "secret" decision. They meant the senior civil servants were entitled to up to 10 years of extra service added to their pensions that they had not actually worked.

A second perk was a special severance payment, worth up to half a year's pay.

The two lucrative benefits were given on top of their pension lump sum of up to one-and-a-half years' pay and annual pension of up to half a year's pay.

The Department of Finance said the terms were offered to compensate them for taking seven-year contracts, without the guarantee of another job, although many of them, including Mr McCarthy, were kept on.

However, it has been revealed that the secretaries general's equivalents in the UK do not get the same perks.

A spokesperson at the Cabinet Office said civil servants appointed to the roles are not on contract, so it does not arise. And private sector appointees, who get three-year, fixed-term contracts, do not get any such 'bonus' when their term expires.

Irish Independent

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