Thursday, 21 January 2010
Dáil Eireann Debate
118. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if there are obstacles to the implementation of the early retirement scheme in the Health Service Executive such as at a location (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2721/10]
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): In his Supplementary Budget Statement of 7 April 2009, the Minister for Finance announced that he would make available three schemes to reduce the number of public sector employees in the wider public sector , one of which was the Incentivised Scheme for Early Retirement. My Department issued a circular (8/2009) on 15 May 2009 to give effect to this measure in HSE and other public health sector employment, including this employment. The closing date for receipt of applications for this scheme was 23rd October, 2009.
The scheme did not apply to grades exempted from the moratorium on recruitment and promotions under the 2009 Employment Control Framework for the Public Health Sector, in order to meet the requirements of integrated health care delivery and, in particular, to address needs in the community in respect of care of the elderly and people with disabilities.
Members of all other grades who meet the eligibility criteria had access to this scheme provided the grades/staff groups concerned cooperate with the requirements in relation to redeployment, mobility, skill mix and flexibility which are outlined in the employment control framework: this is designed to allow individuals to avail of this scheme while still protecting services. Because staff who avail of the scheme will not be replaced (save in very exceptional cases), employers were required to pay particular attention, when considering applications, to the scope that exists within the organisation for reorganising and restructuring work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. Staff cooperation and flexibility in that regard was essential. My Department was informed that the health service trade unions issued a directive instructing their members not to cooperate with redeployment and reassignment requests from management. The unions have stated their opposition to the moratorium on recruitment and promotions as set out in 2009 Employment Control Framework for the Public Health Sector, referred to above. This instruction from the unions which remains in place, severely restricts the ability of management to organise/restructure work practice and contravenes the qualification criteria for the scheme. As a result, the HSE suspended all three schemes in June but continued to accept applications, up to the closing date of 23 October 2009.
The HSE recently requested my Department’s approval to lift the suspension as it applied to the ISER, and to allow it to proceed to process to finalisation applications received prior to the closing date. This request is currently being considered by my Department in consultation with the Department of Finance.
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