Tuesday 14 August 2018

Revealed: How 1,150 Revenue staff on sick leave are overpaid €1.69m

Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Niall Cody. Photo: Tom Burke
Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Niall Cody. Photo: Tom Burke

Anne Marie Walsh

Overpayments made to Revenue staff on sick leave have soared from less than €300,000 to €1.69m in just four years.

A letter sent by the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Niall Cody, to the head of the Expenditure Department, Robert Watt, reveals that there were 121 cases worth €277,712 in 2013.

But this rocketed to 1,150 cases with a value of €1.69m last year after a human resources system known as PeoplePoint was rolled out across the civil service.

The letter also reveals that a civil service payroll centre told Revenue personnel managers they would have to wait two weeks to stop paying members of staff when they asked to do so.

This was despite the fact that the worker in question had already been overpaid.

Mr Cody said management processes within the PeoplePoint and Payroll Share Services Centres would need to be revised.

Robert Watt
Robert Watt

He said PeoplePoint provided Revenue with a detailed analysis of the cause of overpayments three years ago.

"However, when this data was analysed by our HR staff, significant inaccuracies were found," he said.

"PeoplePoint changed the format of the report in May 2016 and since then our HR unit has struggled to get information on time or in a manner that allows for further follow up."

He said line managers at Revenue were the reason for only 1pc of the overpayment cases.

"There would appear to be little room for improvement in this figure," he said.

A Revenue spokesperson said that most cases of overpayment crop up when workers go over sick leave thresholds.

This means they must move onto half pay or their pay is stopped.

They can take up to 92 days sick leave in one year, before going on half pay, or 183 days in four years, before they would get no pay.

They might also be overpaid if they went over the maximum limit for uncertified sick leave of seven days in two years.

Fault

However, the spokesperson did not cast any light on where the fault lay for the overpayments.

She said salaries were paid in advance so once a worker went over the thresholds, "an overpayment automatically arises" and must be recouped.

The spokesperson said that PeoplePoint would identify the overpayment and tell the Payroll Shared Services Centre so it could alter payments and change instructions to banks.

"The level of overpayments is a matter of concern for Revenue and for the National Shared Services Office," she said.

"The two organisations are working closely to ensure that overpayments are regularised quickly in a manner that does not cause undue hardship to the individuals concerned, and also to reduce the number of new cases arising."

She said the National Shared Services Office had set up a working group to address the issue, chaired by the Revenue's personnel officer. It is due to have its first meeting shortly.

Irish Independent

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