A solicitor had highlighted how HSE workers — unlike the vast majority of employees seeking certificates of lost earnings because of an injury — were being charged €123 for the paperwork, necessary for any claim being made to the State’s Injuries Board.
A spokesperson for the Injuries Board confirmed the charging for the production of such a certificate was very uncommon and that the HSE had applied it at three different stages in recent years.
Writing on his personal blog recently, Co Limerick-based solicitor Rossa McMahon said of the imposition of the €123 charge by the HSE: “This was surprising as while providing the certificate involves some work for the employer, they should have the information readily available and providing it seems part of the ordinary obligations of an employer to an employee.
“When I first came across the charge it I queried it with the HSE, who said it was a new standardised fee. I asked the Injuries Board if they would include such a fee in calculating special damages for a claim and they said they would not. So the injured party would either have to pay the fee themselves or risk not having an accurate loss of earnings claim.”
The Injuries Board confirmed that it was aware of a number of cases in recent years, first dating back to 2011.
At that time the fee was being applied by the HSE, and the Injuries Board made contact in relation to it, but stressed that it does not have the power to ask that a fee not be applied.
Application of the fee did stop involving HSE personnel until 2014, when the Board again contacted the HSE about the fee.
“It seems to have come from one particular geographical area,” a spokesperson for the Injuries Board said. We can’t tell people want to do but as far as we are concerned people do not generally charge for that. It is not something that would typically happen. It would get added on to the cost of the claim.”
The spokesperson confirmed that the fee once again appeared in recent correspondence: “We saw a few more cases this year in the last few months.”
A Freedom of Information request by Rossa McMahon revealed an internal email from September 21 last when the general manager of national payroll for the HSE stated: “Following a review of the charge for Loss of Earnings calculations, it has now been agreed to abolish same effective immediately.”
According to a HSE spokesperson: “A charge had been applied in the Mid-Western Health Board that existed before the establishment of Health Business Services (HBS) National Payroll. Following the establishment of HBS Payroll it was agreed to standardise the charge across all Payroll areas in 2014.
The charge caused considerable issues with requests being submitted under FoI (there is no charge for these requests).
“Due to the charge not being cost effective and also given the issues encountered processing it, it was agreed to abolish the charge in September 2016.”