Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Department of Finance
Question 189: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will exclude researcher officers at universities from the pension levy, in view of the fact that researchers rarely have full-time employment, are unlikely to ever benefit from a pension scheme, their employment is made possible by research funding from various bodies and they have no job security; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5483/10]
Public servants who are members of public service pension schemes are liable to pay the pension-related deduction legislated for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. On this basis, third-level researchers on fixed-term and temporary contracts must pay the deduction, since they are members of the relevant occupational pension schemes. Distinctions between public servants on the basis of whether they are permanent or temporary, and if temporary what contract duration applies, are irrelevant insofar as liability to pay the deduction is concerned.
Section 6 of the Act provides for a refund of the deduction in circumstances where the departing employee has accrued no benefits under any public service pension scheme, has not received a payment in lieu of scheme membership and has not transferred the service to another public service pension scheme. This provision should be of benefit to third-level researchers on short-term non-renewable contracts who have no prior public service employment history and who accrue no pension benefit at the expiry of their contract due to insufficient service.
Section 8 of the Act grants the Minister for Finance a limited special discretion to exempt groups of public servants from payment of the deduction. Specifically, where he is satisfied that due to exceptional circumstances, a particular class or group of public servants are materially distinguished from other classes or groups who are subject to the deduction, then the Minister may fully or partly exempt this group from paying some or all of the deduction, if he believes it would be fair and equitable to do so. A request for such an exemption has been received from a group of research workers and is under examination in my Department. When that examination is completed, I will be in a position to consider whether an exemption should be granted to that group.