Ulster Bank to cut 600 staff as it prepares to exit Ireland

Initial voluntary redundancy programme to cover a quarter of workforce, with more staff to move with loan and branch sales

Ulster Bank is opening an initial redundancy programme as part of its withdrawal from the Irish market, which is expected to see 600 staff leaving the UK-owned lender on a voluntary basis from next March.

That equates to about a quarter of the group’s 2,400-strong workforce as of the end of August, according to a company spokeswoman. A further 610 Ulster Bank staff are transferring on a phased basis to AIB and Permanent TSB as the two remaining lenders take over much of the exiting bank’s loan book. More than 160 have already moved.

Ulster Bank last year prepared the groundwork for inevitable rounds of redundancies in the coming years when it agreed to severance terms with the Financial Services Union. The accord will mean exiting staff receive five weeks’ pay for each year of service, inclusive of statutory entitlements, or four weeks per year, plus statutory, dependent on which is greater.

Previously, it offered four weeks’ pay per year, inclusive of statutory entitlements. Redundancy packages will be capped at 104 weeks and a monetary amount of £300,000 (€343,000). Leavers will get a minimum payment of 20 weeks’ pay, regardless of service.


Employees eligible to apply for the first wave of redundancies include 450 workers in the 63 branches that Ulster Bank will be closing as they are not among the 25 branches transferring to Permanent TSB. That deal is part of a wider agreement also involving much of the exiting bank’s loan book.

Some 350 employees in Ulster Bank services, functions and personal banking divisions can also apply for redundancy in the first round, as work in these areas will cease or significantly diminish during the first half of 2023.

Employees in the two areas can apply for voluntary redundancy or enter a period of redeployment where they can look for another role on either a temporary or longer-term basis, the bank said.

“While these plans have been well signposted to colleagues as part of our withdrawal communications, the programmes announced today will offer some clarity for those in scope, and for those not in scope today, we expect that further redundancy programmes will be opened in 2023 and beyond, meaning that colleagues who are not in scope today are likely to be included in future programmes, with exit dates expected to be later in 2023 and 2024,” said Ulster Bank chief executive Jane Howard.

“While we have not yet announced a precise date for our 63 branch closures, we expect to be in a position to update further on this in the new year.”

Of the 610 jobs that have moved or are moving with loan books and branches, Permanent TSB and its loan services partner, Pepper Finance, account for about 350, with AIB taking on about 260.

AIB is taking over more than €4 billion of corporate and commercial loans from Ulster Bank and has agreed, subject to regulatory approval, to acquire a further €5.7 billion of tracker mortgages from the departing lender. Permanent TSB is in the process of taking over close to €7 billion of mortgage and small business and asset finance loans from Ulster Bank.

Ulster Bank started to freeze deposit and current accounts last Friday, seven months after giving an initial wave of customers notice to find alternative homes for their banking. It has initially focused on closing about 3,600 accounts that have been inactive for some time or have low levels of monthly transactions.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times