Siptu says HSE has ‘gone soft’ on pay top-up for senior managers

Union criticises move by HSE to seek approval for agencies to retain top-up pay

Siptu organiser Paul Bell. File photograph: Eric Luke / THE IRISH TIMES

Siptu organiser Paul Bell. File photograph: Eric Luke / THE IRISH TIMES


Management in the HSE are “soft” on the compliance of the highest earners in the health service with Government pay policy, the trade union Siptu has claimed.

Siptu has strongly criticised indications given by the HSE to an Oireachtas committee yesterday that it would seek official approval for a number of voluntary hospital and health agencies to continue making “top up” or additional payments to their senior managers in excess of official Government rates.

The HSE signalled that it had legal advice that it could lose any case brought by a manager who contended that it would be a breach of contract to unilaterally end the additional payments.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said the decision to allow these top -up payments “has seriously damaged the ability of both the Department of Health and the HSE to delivery credible reform of the public health service”.

The HSE’s deputy director general, Laverne McGuinness, told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children that it had received 67 business cases from voluntary hospitals and health agencies – known as section 38 organisations – with accompanying documentation arguing that senior managers had a contractual entitlement to the additional payments.

She said a further 14 bodies had indicated that their executives had similar legal contracts but had not yet provided supporting documentation.

Mr Bell said that the the announcement by the HSE that senior managers in section 38 health service providers may retain top up payments “has appalled many Siptu members”.

He said some of the managers were receiving top-up payments of €30,000 or more.

“It is the stated policy of the HSE that managers in Section 38 organisations should be paid the same as those in comparative roles in the public sector. However, it is apparent that the management of the HSE is prepared to overlook its own guidelines when it concerns those on high salaries but not when they impact on frontline workers”.

HSE national director of human resources Barry O’Brien said it would be seeking approval from the Department of Health for some section 38 bodies to continue to make top-up payments to their senior managers on an individualised or “red circled” basis.

He did not say how many applications it would forward to the Department of Health and said that various business cases submitted would be considered individually.

Ms McGuinness said if the HSE was to support such applications it would “be on the strict understanding that once the current post holder no longer holds the roles and responsibilities attaching to the role, then the non-compliant remuneration will cease”.