Job juggling at Irish banks

Even with the comfort of a 500bn state guarantee, life hasn\'t got any easier for Irish banks, with worries about a mountain of bad debts from property developers compounded by a recession that is crippling business.

In a bid to cut costs, lay-offs of contract workers are already underway and talks are about to open with the Irish Bank Officials’ Association on staff cutbacks.

Permanent TSB, the Republic’s largest mortgage provider, has put forward its own scheme – an offer to pay staff to take a career break.

The bank is offering employees up to 20,000 for a two-year break and 35,000 each for a three-year one. “This is a flexible response to manage our staff costs, and one where both the company and the employees can benefit,” said a spokesman, who felt the offer would appeal particularly to younger members of the bank’s 2,500-strong workforce.

To qualify, staff must have been with the lender for at least two years and sign a non-compete clause to ensure they don’t take a job at a rival bank during their break. On return, they are not guaranteed the same job but are promised “an equal role in the same general area”.