Equal Pay: Civil Servants

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 17th February 2014.

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Photo of Karen McKevitt Karen McKevitt Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:15 pm, 17th February 2014

5. asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on the equal pay issue for retired civil servants. (AQO 5546/11-15)

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

I thank the Member for her question.  I am very happy to say that, with my approval, officials from my Department are in the process of negotiating with NIPSA the settlement terms and processes for payment of former staff represented by the trade union who lodged writs in court following a change last year to the legal position on the time frame within which former staff can lodge equal pay claims.  Affected former staff represented by NIPSA will be contacted soon.  Once those processes have been agreed and payments for that group of staff are under way, officials will contact other former staff who could bring a claim and seek to settle with them in the same way.

Photo of Karen McKevitt Karen McKevitt Social Democratic and Labour Party

I am delighted to ask a supplementary question on that good news; I was not expecting it.  Could the Minister advise the House of the time frame and of how many staff this affects?

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

It is a very rare piece of good news around this place, but I am happy to bring it nonetheless.  About 1,200 staff will be affected.  Obviously, we are very keen to progress this as quickly as possible.  As I said, we have already started discussing this with union officials to try to get it transacted as quickly as possible.  However, as the Member will appreciate, given the volume of staff and the amount of money that will be paid out to affected individuals — around £2 million — it will take some time to process not just the terms of the outstanding pay but the ramifications for pensions.

Photo of Sydney Anderson Sydney Anderson DUP

If finance were made available to settle the equal pay issue, will the estates of staff who have died also receive the payment?

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

I thank the Member for his question on an important issue.  Again, the answer is good news.  Yes, officials will contact the estates of staff who have died and make a payment to the estate of the deceased member of staff.

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Order.  That concludes questions for oral answer to the Minister of Finance.  We will now move to topical questions.