HOSPITALS and health agencies that are paying top-ups to managers have been told they must sign a new agreement saying they will comply with public pay policy by the end of January.
The deadline was delivered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to the chairmen of over 40 voluntary bodies yesterday in a bid to phase out the widespread payment of unauthorised allowances to managers. The new compliance agreement allows for the top-ups to continue if the hospital or agency can argue they are caught up in a legal contract with the manager which they cannot break.
However, all will have to make a case for the top-ups to the Department of Public Expenditure to be allowed continue based on merit or legal contract. This means that many managers who can cite a contract with their employer will be allowed to hold on to the top-ups until they retire.
However, the hospitals will have to agree that the existing top-ups will be phased out as the manager retires or leaves his or her post. The most recent audit of compliance of 43 agencies found that 12 said they were in breach of pay policy by paying some form of allowance or top up.
Others said they were compliant but there remained issues about whether they were actually paying some form of unapproved allowance.
Although the HSE has previously warned it would look at withdrawing funding from agencies which do not agree to phase out the top-ups, the reality is that this would have knock-on effects for patients and clients.
A spokesman said the chairmen were told the agencies have until the end of next week to submit queries.
But they must indicate their agreement on compliance by the end of January.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has backed the version given by the Mater hospital in the wake of revelations that the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) is paying it €666,000 a year to administer its pension fund. A spokesman for the Department told the Irish Independent that the Mater made a statement which clarifies that the 10pc charge is not an administration charge or fee.
"The 10pc referred to is in fact an employer contribution to defray the cost of pension benefits which are currently and will in future be paid by the Mater in respect of CRC employees who were members of the scheme," he said.