MORE than €1m in overpaid wages is to be collected from almost 5,000 school teachers, a Government spending watchdog has found.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) found that it took accountants in the Department of Education nine months of last year to implement 10pc lower pay rates for new entrants.
And the inquiry found that even one year after the cuts kicked in those who were overpaid had not yet been alerted.
"One year after implementation of the pay rate changes, the Department has not yet contacted the individuals overpaid in the first part of 2011 or put in place repayment arrangements," the C&AG found.
Its inquiry found that 1,600 secondary teachers were overpaid €560,000, about €350 each on average, 1,400 primary teachers about the same and 1,700 non-teaching staff working in schools a total of €148,000.
"The policy of the Department is to recover all overpayments," the C&AG's report stated.
The error was caused after it took the Department of Education seven months from budget day in December 2010 to prepare and issue a circular on revised pay scales and nine months to implement the payroll changes.
The overpayment figures could only measure how much was paid to teachers directly under the control of the Department of Education. No figure is known for the teachers in Vocational Education Committees.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform told the C&AG: "It is the responsibility of the management in each of the public service sectors concerned to ensure the implementation of the Government decision in respect of the pay reductions in question.
"The Department does not have a direct role in overseeing such implementation arrangements in the public service, other than in the civil service, and is not in a position to say whether there were similar instances in the wider public service."