Ireland now has about 33,000 millionaire households

Up to 55 top-level civil servants could come away with leave packages of up to €634,000 if they retire by February, reports the Irish Independent.

The senior workers will have to sign up for the lucrative deals by November, and many will be tempted to get out early to avoid the pension cuts that are due to kick in three months later.

After next February, pensions will be slashed because they will be based on wages after the pay cuts the government imposed last year. But for now, pensions are still based on salary levels before those pay cuts, which will range from 5 to 15 percent.

The majority of the 55 senior workers will receive packages of around €300,000 if they retire, but higher grades would be entitled to more than double that.

Secretary general of the Department of Enterprise Sean Gorman could be entitled to a package close to the €700,000 that retired government secretary Dermot McCarthy walked away with. Gorman, who is retiring after 40 year’s service, may walk away with as much as €634,000.

More senior level workers are expected to join the mass exodus of public servants in the next few months.

As many as 10,000 public servants are expected to retire this year, say government sources. That is twice as many state employees that would normally retire in a year.

The 55 senior-level servants are at assistant secretary grade or above, and are entitled to immediate payment of their pension benefits. Another 175 staff in the same grades are also eligible to retire early.

"I think it is embarrassing in the current economic environment and the hardship that people have to face in this country that these amounts have been given out," Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes told the Independent.

The government was unable to stop the payments because they were part of the terms and conditions.

At the start of this year, the public sector workforce stood at just over 305,000. It is predicted to drop to 295,000 at most following the increase in retirements.