HSE overpaid worker €63,000 in voluntary redundancy scheme
AN OVERPAYMENT of more than €63,500 was made to a Health Service Executive employee who availed of the voluntary redundancy scheme announced in November 2010 to reduce health staff numbers.
Confidential internal audit findings relating to the executive’s Dublin Mid-Leinster region found two overpayments, one of which had since been referred to the legal department. The report said that in the first case the overpayment of €63,570.64 had been recouped from the recipient.
In the second case arrangements had been made to recoup the largest proportion of the overpayment (€15,024.32) as an offset against the employee’s retirement lump sum due this month.
The HSE requested that the employee repay the balance of €1,613 by cheque. As of July 2011, no payment had been received, and the matter had been referred to the legal department.
Internal auditors reviewed a sample of 58 employee files where people accepted voluntary redundancy or voluntary retirement.
Problems identified with some files included missing birth certificates for verifying employees’ ages, inconsistencies in employment contract dates, and a lack of clarity in how payment-in-lieu-of-notice payments were calculated.
A separate internal audit report of salary overpayments in the HSE South region found €248,572 in salary overpayments in 2010 alone, mainly to nurses, administration staff and pensioners.
The audit said there was “widescale resistance” where the HSE sought to recover the overpaid amounts, with most staff refusing to pay the money back claiming “undue hardship”.
Overpayments of more than €396,000, some dating back many years, were outstanding at the end of 2010. Total payroll costs for the HSE South region in 2010 were over €810 million, with the overpayments representing just 0.03 per cent of that total.
The average original value of the 246 overpayments in 2010 was €4,044, but ranged from €53 to €70,410.
Cases highlighted included an overpayment of €16,054, which occurred when a consultant was set up on the wrong salary scale in 1994. The audit sample also included an overpayment of €25,038 from March 2001 to June 2002 when a staff nurse was paid for working full-time hours even though she was job-sharing.
A further overpayment of €30,246 was made to another nurse between April 2007 and October 2008 after she reduced her working hours. The auditors said that at the current rate of repayment of €25 per fortnight, it would take 46 years to repay the amount, which could not be recouped before the employee reached retirement age.
Management told the auditors that individual employees would be informed that if repayments were not forthcoming prior to retirement the outstanding balances would be deducted from their retirement gratuities. If there were insufficient funds in that payment, the outstanding amounts would still be pursued.