Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Dáil Eireann Debate
79. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the steps he is taking to ensure that Ireland is in compliance with EU Council Directive 80/987/EC on pension security. [15367/10]
111. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on whether the pension insolvency payments scheme which came into effect in March 2010 fails to meet the State’s obligation under the EU insolvency directive (EC council directive 80/987/EC) which requires the State to protect employees in insolvency situations; his plans to make changes to PIPS to ensure that in cases of insolvency involving pension deficits employees will receive at least 50% of their pension entitlements. [15487/10]
Article 8 of Directive 80/987/EEC provides that Member States shall ensure that the necessary measures are taken to protect the interests of employees and of persons having already left the employer’s undertaking or business at the date of the onset of the employer’s insolvency.
Article 8 was implemented by section 7 of the Protection of Employees (Employer Insolvency) Act 1984. This provides that certain payments due to be paid by the employer in the last 12 months may be made from the Social Insurance Fund.
The EU Commission is currently conducting a further review of the implementation of Article 8 of the Directive throughout all member states. Once that review is completed, its recommendations will be considered by my Department and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Any actions necessary will be progressed in a timely manner.
There are various legislative provisions which provide protection for members of pension schemes and these are kept under review. The Pensions Insolvency Payments scheme (PIPS) is an additional measure introduced by the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009. PIPS provides that pension schemes that have wound up in deficit due to the insolvency of their sponsoring employer may purchase pension payments from the State at a lower rate than would be available on the open market. In this way, it ensures that more resources from the scheme are available to offset the pension liabilities of active and deferred scheme members.
PIPS came into effect in February this year and is being operated by the Department of Finance. The exact nature of the levels of funding available to employees, following an application to PIPS, will be dependent on individual circumstances. However, I know the scheme itself, operating on a pilot basis, will be subject to an ongoing review in the Department of Finance.
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