75% of public servants paid less than €60,000

21st December 2011

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has confirmed that over 75% of public servants are paid less than €60,000 a year. Just over 2% earned more than €100,000.

The figures were part of a response to a parliamentary question in December from Joanna Tuffy TD. The minister explained that the estimated breakdown of public service employee numbers for 2011, on a whole time equivalent basis (based on a whole time equivalent figure of 300,000) by salary range is as follows:

Numbers Numbers % of total
€0-€20,000 19,442 6.4
€20,001-€40,000 93,253 31
€40,001-€60,000 112,954 37.6
€60,001-€80,000 52,600 17.5
€80,001-€100,000 14,960 4.9
Over €100,000 6,791 2.2
Total 300,000

Mr Howlin said the salary figures include the budgetary pay cut to public service pay which came into effect on 1st January 2010, but exclude the impact on gross salaries of the 2009 pension levy, which imposed an additional average pay cut of 7% effective from March 2009.

IMPACT responded to earlier figures that claimed 17,447 public servants earned over €100,000. The figures, also based on a Dáil answer, were reported in the Irish Times and other media stories. The Irish Times decided not to publish IMPACT’s response to the figures, which wrongly suggested that there were almost 429,000 state employees in 2009 when the actual figure has never exceeded 320,000.

The figures, from the Revenue Commissioners, included all the commercial semi-state companies, where salaries are not paid by the exchequer. They also included the total taxable earnings of anyone who is paid anything by the public sector. For example, a private sector company director who received €5,000 for being on a state board, and over €100,000 from their private sector income, is likely to appear in these figures as a ‘public servant’ earning over €100,000.

The figures also showed the jointly assessed incomes of taxpayers, where one or more spouse is a public servant, as a single ‘public servant’. So, if a public servant earns €52,000 and their spouse earns €49,000 in the private sector, they are shown in these figures as a public servant earning over €100,000.

They were also compiled before the introduction of public service pay cuts, which hit all public servants, but with higher percentages for those at the top.