The Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 made significant changes for new entrants to the public service after 1 April 2004. The minimum age for receiving a pension should generally be 65. There should be no compulsion for persons to retire at a particular age if they are fit and willing to remain in employment.
Superannuation includes any pension, gratuity or other allowance on resignation, retirement, discharge or death to or in respect of a member or former member of the public service pension scheme in accordance with the terms of the scheme.
A new entrant to the public service is a person who becomes a public servant after 1 April 2004. It does not include persons on leave or secondament on that date and persons who are serving before that date and subsequently move within the public sector. The legislation also takes account of seasonal works and disregards breaks in employment up to six months in determining whether a person is a new entrant.
There are minimum pension age of 55 and maximum retiring age of 60 for new entry Garda Síochána and Prison Officers. A member of a Garda Síochána who is a new entrant, ceases to be a member at 55 but may continue to be member of the 60 subject to meeting health, fitness and competence criteria.
Fire brigade employees are excluded from the removal of compulsory retirement age. Permanent Defence Forces members are also not subject to the provision.
However, new members of the Defence Force are subject to the following provision. The Minister for Defence with the consent of the Minister for Finance shall make a superannuation scheme or schemes for new entrants. The Minister shall approve the superannuation terms for a scheme for Permanent Defence Members where a scheme may not have been to provide for those terms.
New Entrant Pension Age
No superannuation benefits shall be payable to a new entrant in respect of service as a new entrant before he reaches 65 i.e. minimum pension age.
The legislation removes restrictions on reckoning of service for pension age after a person reaches the specified age. This is subject to the person not having exceeded the maximum pension threshold subject to other provisions in the Act, whereby a maximum retirement age is provided for certain persons including in particular Garda Síochána, Prison Officers and fire brigade members.
There are exceptions provided for death benefits, retirement on grounds of ill health and compulsory retirement. In cases where there is provision in the existing schemes or were provided for in a scheme or enactment that applies to new entrants approved after 1 April 2004.
Schedule I list bodies which are not included within the scope of the age provisions but which are included in the public sector for purposes of employee mobility.
The minimum pension age of 50 for nee entrants of the Permanent Defence Force is provided.
A minimum pension age of 55 for new Garda Síochána is provided for. There is no change in the minimum pension age of 55 for specified fire brigade employees.
The provision for fast accrual for certain fire brigade employees is removed, as well as certain employees in the mental health service area.
Persons who are member of the Oireachtas or European Parliament are excluded from the definition of new entrants. A person who is a new entrant is not obliged to retire on age grounds.
Superannuation benefits for Oireachtas officeholders and members of the Oireachtas will not be payable before the age of 65, other than on grounds of ill health or death or where provided for in a scheme or enactment that applies to new entrant which is approved after 1 April 2004, to persons who become members of the Oireachtas or European Parliament after 1 April 2004.
Single Public Service Pension Scheme.
The Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012 established the Single Public Service Pension Scheme. A “relevant public servant”, defines the group of public servants to whom the new compulsory retirement age of 70 will apply. The definition includes the majority of public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004, but excludes the following:
- Uniformed pension fast accrual group, i.e. Gardaí, Prison Officers, Firefighters and members of the Permanent Defence Force who, for operational reasons are required to retire early;
- Groups where no compulsory retirement age applies, e.g. President and Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, or where a compulsory retirement age is provided for in statute elsewhere e.g. the Judiciary;
- Public servants who have already retired at the current compulsory retirement age, have been rehired and are employed in a public service body on the coming into operation of the legislation.
Increased Compulsory Retirement Age
The Purpose of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 is
- to provide for an increase in the compulsory retirement age to 70, for the majority of public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004, most of whom currently have a compulsory retirement age of 65;
- to provide the Minister with the power to further increase that compulsory retirement age, by order, in the future under certain circumstances and to provide that the additional service, over the age of 65 will attract pension accrual subject to the statutory maximum of 40 years’ service.
The groups who will not be covered by the legislation are detailed in section 2 of the Act and described below.
The 2018 Act provides for a new compulsory retirement age of 70 for relevant public servants as defined in the Act. The Minister may make an order to further increase the compulsory retirement age for relevant public servants in the future, up to a maximum age of 75.
The Act lists the factors that the Minister must consider before making such an order. Certain other Acts are amended so that the retirement age provisions contained in those Acts are consistent with the provisions of this Act.
Service between the age of 65 and the new compulsory retirement age of 70 will benefit from pension accrual, subject to the maximum accrual of 40 years’ pensionable service. This allows for pension accrual up to any higher compulsory retirement age that the Minister may determine by order in the future.
Any Statutory Instrument which sets a compulsory retirement age, which has been made under any enactment, shall also be read subject to the 2004 Act as amended.
Limitations of Application
The 2018 Act contains a list of bodies to which the Principal Act does not apply. These are mostly commercial State bodies. Section 6 of the Act amends that Schedule to include two For completeness and in line with equivalent Schedules in the FEMPI Acts and the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012, Schedule 1 was amended by the 2018 Act to include any corporate bodies that were established before the foundation of the Irish Free State.
The 2018 Act text contains consequential amendments to various sectoral enactments which provide for a compulsory retirement age for an individual public servant or class of public servant. This is to align existing sectoral enactments with the key provision of this Act which is to increase the compulsory retirement age to 70 for most public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004.
The Schedule details the consequential amendments to various sectoral enactments which provide for a compulsory retirement age for a public servant or class of public servant. In each case, the amendments provide for a compulsory retirement age of 70, other than in the case of “new entrants” as defined in the 2004 Act who have no requirement to retire on age grounds. The amendments also provide for a further increase in that compulsory retirement age in the event that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform should provide for a higher compulsory retirement age by order in the future.