It would cost €200m to restore equal pay for over 60,000 public servants recruited since 2011 on lower terms and conditions, according to a new report published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
During the economic crisis, the Government unilaterally cut pay rates for new recruits by 10%, as well as reducing allowances, and introducing a new pension scheme viewed as less generous than the existing scheme applicable up to then.
As a result, 60,500 public servants across 237 grades - 19% of the entire public service workforce - are earning less than their longer-serving colleagues.
The issue has caused controversy and discord, particularly in the education sector, which continued to recruit teachers during the recession, while other sectors were subject to a recruitment moratorium.
Last year it was agreed that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform would carry out a review on the pay of new entrants including an estimate for the cost of restoring pay equalisation, as well as a plan for how to achieve that.
Today's report estimates that a two-point incremental adjustment applied to the 60,500 public servants on lower pay would cost around €200m, or an average of €3,301 per affected employee.
This would be on top of the pay restoration of between 7.4% and 6.2% agreed for all public servants under the most recent public service pay agreement.
The health sector accounts for around €84.3m of the €200m figure with almost €35.5m going to nurses.
The education sector pay bill would rise by over €83m - with around €59m going to teachers.
The bill for pay equality for civil servants would be €15.7m.
The justice sector would see an additional €10m added to payroll - mostly for recent garda recruits.
The local authority pay bill would rise by €4m, while new entrants in the Defence Forces would be due over €2m.
Minister for Finance Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said the report highlighted the considerable complexity, scope and costs associated with the issue of lower pay for new entrants - given that it affects hundreds of salary scales across the public service.
He noted that the reduced pay points introduced during the economic crisis had not prevented very significant recruitment to the public service since then.
Minister Donohoe also said the report made clear the Government's commitment to working with the parties to address these issues in line with the public service agreement, but also taking account of the significant costs involved.
He said the data would provide the necessary evidence to support further engagement between the parties.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions and its Public Services Committee welcomed the agreement to hold new talks on new entrants' pay for public sector workers.
ICTU General Secretary Patricia King said that securing new talks on the issue marked a significant step towards the resolution of a long standing problem.
"At its most basic, this was and remains a simple issue of fairness and equality. The decision to cut entry grade pay across the public service was never endorsed or accepted by trade unions and we have consistently sought to bring this injustice to an end," Ms King said.
Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Dara Calleary said the publication of the report must be seen as a first step in a process to bring about pay equality.
Deputy Calleary called on Minister Donohoe to set out a definitive timeline by which he expects full pay equality to be secured.
He said the Public Service Pay Commission should play an integral role in this process.
The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland said it was essential that talks begin immediately to ensure that pay equalisation can be implemented in a short time frame.
The ASTI said that on average post 2010 entrants earn €4000 less per year than a pre-2010 recruit with the same qualifications and experience.
The union also noted that applications for second level teaching courses had dropped significantly since the introduction of differential pay scales.
SIPTU Health Divison Organiser Paul Bell said SIPTU members had consistently argued that it was unfair to cut the entry grade of pay for workers joining the public service since 2011.
He said the talks would deliver an opportunity to resolve what he called 'this injustice' within the terms of the new public service pay agreement.