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Marriage Gratuities


Prior to 31 July 1973, women employed in the civil service were required to resign on marriage. This was known as a “marriage bar”. Similar policies and practices were also in place in parts of the wider public and private sectors at that time. The marriage bar in the civil service was removed under the Civil Service (Employment of Married Women) Act 1973, with effect from 31 July 1973.

Eligibility and calculation

In the case of female civil servants who resigned on marriage and who met certain eligibility requirements, a lump sum payment, known as a ‘marriage gratuity’ was paid in lieu of any other civil service superannuation benefit. Eligibility requirements generally included that the individual:

  • was appointed to the civil service from a competition advertised prior to 1 February 1974,
  • had at least 5 years' actual reckonable service prior to marriage, and
  • resigned from the civil service on or within 2 years of marriage.

The marriage gratuity was calculated at a rate of 1 month’s pay for each year of actual reckonable service up to the date of marriage, subject to a maximum of one year's salary.

Re-entry into the civil service

An individual who was re-appointed to a pensionable position in the civil service, having previously resigned and received a marriage gratuity, may avail of an option to refund the marriage gratuity paid to them. The amount due is calculated as the marriage gratuity originally paid, plus compound interest up to the date of repayment. Once repaid, all prior reckonable service may be restored and aggregated with subsequent service accrued for superannuation purposes. A marriage gratuity may be repaid by a single lump sum payment, by payment in instalments during service, or by deduction from the retirement lump sum. Compound interest will apply to any balance outstanding until the liability is cleared.

Supporting information

  • Circular 37/1975 ‘Marriage gratuities in the civil service’
  • Circular 50/1979 ‘Re-admission to the civil service of certain former women civil servants’
  • Circular 25/1990 ‘Refund of marriage gratuities in the civil service’
  • Circular 15/2014 ‘Revised rate of compound interest for use in the calculation of refunds to the exchequer’