Thursday 19 October 2017

Central Bank rapped over €32,000 exit deal for recruit

Central Bank
Central Bank

Anne-Marie Walsh

The State spending watchdog has criticised the Central Bank for handing out a severance payment worth €32,000 to an individual who had not even begun to work for it.

The bank suffered costs of €73,000 as a result of the case as it had to cover its own and the recruit's legal fees.

Another two exit packages worth €61,000 each were made to staff who had worked at the bank for less than two years. The Comptroller and Auditor General said the three payments "suggest that the Central Bank needs to review its procedures for managing recruitment and probation".

It also noted that a long-term contractor who had never been an employee of the bank was awarded €60,000.

The new report identified 14 discretionary severance payments, worth more than €50,000 each and amounting to nearly €1.5m, that were made by public sector bodies between 2011 and 2013.

The Central Bank made six of these payments, which amounted to more than €540,000 including legal costs.

Between 2011 and 2013, the report said the bank had "more recourse" to termination agreements and severance payments than the other public sector bodies it examined.

"The frequency of payments could imply weaknesses in the Central Bank's procedures for managing performance or addressing other human resource issues," it said.

The bank clocked up its own legal costs and the costs of the employee in all but one case, but details of the legal advice it received were not documented in some cases.

In the education sector, three discretionary payments averaging €212,000 each were made, with one worth €158,000 in the health sector.

The report noted that such discretionary severance payments were often made when the employment relationship breaks down "irreconcilably".

It noted that specific provisions for severance payments were also made in formal schemes. It says severance payments may be made to attract desirable candidates to short-term jobs.

An examination of formal severance payments awarded between 2011 and 2013 under six public sector schemes, found they had a value of €17.9m. It said nearly €11m of this was related to pension enhancements like added years.

It found broad compliance with scheme rules in most cases, except for a scheme for chief executives of State bodies.

The report found two State bodies, who are not named, made severance payments in the form of pension enhancements worth more than €1m without the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's prior approval.

Pensions

The report reveals that between 2011 and 2013, 11 secretaries general of government departments got average severance deals worth €911,000 each. This included a lump sum payment worth around €100,000 each and the value of years added to their pensions as well as the fact they were allowed to retire early.

The scheme for secretaries general ended in November 2011. Their payments accounted for 56pc of the value of severance pay during the three-year period examined to 2013.

One unnamed civil servant got a deal worth €1.1m, made up of added years and an early pension, while two chief executives of State bodies got packages worth €523,000 each.

A total of 41 ministerial appointees got €26,000 each, while the average deal for 186 secretarial assistants was €21,000 and €13,000 for 54 embassy staff.

According to the report, the governor of the Central Bank said the cases it was taken to task over arose in a period of unprecedented renewal and growth at the bank, as staff numbers grew by one-third. A spokesman for the Comptroller and Auditor General said the Central Bank was the only public body named in the report, aside from the departments responsible for signing off on severance payments, because of the high number of discretionary payments it made.

Irish Independent

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