RTE staff are paid up to €10,000 to take year off work
There was a stampede of RTE staff looking to get out the door last year for its incentivised career break (ICB) scheme.
New figures show that 254 staff - or 8pc of the workforce - applied for paid-for time off last year as part of the station's ICB scheme.
Such was the number of applicants for the scheme - where those taking a year off get an upfront payment of €10,000 - that bosses at the station refused 67 of the applications in 2017.
However, the 187 granted represents a 133pc increase on the 80 who took advantage of the scheme in 2016. This followed 96 staff availing of the scheme in 2015.
The majority of successful app- licants opt for a four, eight or 12-week break where they receive €850 a month or 1.25pc of gross salary, whichever is higher.
During the career break, they are allowed to obtain alternative employment but must receive prior consent from RTE if they want to work in a similar role with a different broadcaster or organisation.
A spokesman for RTE said yesterday that it was happy with the operation of the ICB schemes to date, but confirmed that there will be no ICB scheme this year.
He said this was due to the availability of the early retirement and voluntary exit schemes.
The spokesman said the 2017 ICB scheme "was part of an ongoing review of cost-saving opportunities and efficiencies, both short and longer term, across RTE".
Under the scheme, staff who avail of 26 or 52 weeks of an incentivised career break will receive an upfront payment of €5,000 or €10,000 respectively.
Last year, 36 of the 187 staff members opted for the six-month or 12-month options, with the remainder opting for the shorter four, eight or 12-week breaks.
"Requests are more likely to be approved by managers where an ICB does not have a negative impact on the operation of a particular team or function, or on the delivery of a service," said the spokesman.
"Furthermore, while ICBs vary in duration, the majority of those approved are shorter."
On the reasons why the 67 applications were rejected last year, the spokesman said this was "for a variety of reasons, such as duration sought, resources required during period sought, and duplicate applications".
The spokesman said that payments to staff leaving the organisation as part of RTE's early retirement and voluntary exit schemes exclude periods of unpaid leave, such as career breaks or ICBs.
RTE's Freedom of Information (FOI) unit declined to say how much was paid out in total under the ICB scheme last year or the top amount paid to a staff member.
"The ability of RTE to and manage its business costs eff- ectively is of significant importance to RTE," said the FOI unit.
"The majority of RTE's competitors are not required to release these records on the basis that they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act."