Up to 16,000 civil servants in Northern Ireland are being offered payments of up to £14,000 in owed back pay and equal pay settlements.
The government staff, who are mainly lower-grade female workers, have started receiving e-mails over the past few days outlining their individual payments.
The payments are costing the Northern Ireland Assembly about £150m, the Belfast Telegraph reported.
Sammy Wilson, the finance minister, is making the payments despite the looming public sector spending squeeze, but warned against opening a “Pandora’s box” by offering the payments to retired and seconded civil servants.
The payments result from a settlement reached following negotiations with the main civil service union, the Northern Ireland Public Sector Alliance (Nipsa).
Around 95% of balloted members backed the offer earlier this year, in a package which means pay rates for some of the least well-off will rise by nearly 30%.