HSE Audit: Barnardos staff paid more than HSE rates

A HSE audit of children’s charity Barnardos found the CEO and senior management salaries were paid in excess of health sector pay rates and that unclear information was provided to the board and to the media in relation to the CEO’s salary and his donations.

HSE Audit: Barnardos staff paid more than HSE rates

The internal audit, which examined records covering the period 2012 to 2015, found Fergus Finlay was paid more than the maximum on the HSE scale for assistant national director primary, community and continuing care, even though the chair of the board of Barnardos had approved a proposal to link his pay to that particular scale in 2010.

Mr Finlay’s gross salary in 2014 was €114,651 based on a salary of €111,711 for six months and €117,511 for six months. His pay scale as of December 31, 2014, was €117,511.

At the time, the maximum salary available to his HSE comparator was €110,183, on foot of public sector pay rate reductions introduced from July 1, 2013, under the Haddington Road Agreement.

Mr Finlay’s salary in 2013 was €1,528 more than that maximum. In December 2013, he told the Irish Mirror his salary was “pegged at the level of a management salary in the HSE, not top-level management, but middle to senior management, and that is where I am pitched”.

Mr Finlay’s salary of €117,711 was restored from July 1, 2014 (he had taken a voluntary reduction in June 2012 when Barnardos introduced some staff redundancies), putting him €7,408 ahead of the maximum paid to HSE assistant national director.

The internal auditors said as the 2013 Haddington Road Agreement reduction in his comparator grade was not applied by Barnardos “it was no longer acceptable for Barnardos to reference HSE pay scales or to state that the CEO was on a point of a HSE salary scale which no longer existed”.

Barnardos accepted the recommendation “on the basis that this assertion was only made when it was true and accurate”.

“Mentions since December 2013 have correctly stated the CEO’s salary with no further mentions of a HSE pay scale”, Barnardos said.

The HSE audit also found that Barnardos was paying senior managers in excess of public sector pay norms; directors on the charity’s pay scale could earn up to €100,407, almost €21,000 more than their HSE comparator. Barnardos’ assistant directors, of whom there were eight, could earn a maximum of €85,296 compared to €74,551 for a comparable role in the HSE.

The auditors recommended Barnardos’ management ensure senior management remuneration “has due regard for Government (health sector) pay policy”.

Barnardos said: “We and our funders, including HSE and Tusla management to whom we have reported each year, consider that those salaries are entirely appropriate.”

Barnardos also points out that it is “not covered by either the Haddington Road or Croke Park Agreements”.

The audit was also critical of what constituted donations by the CEO to the charity. Barnardos invoiced the Irish Examiner for private articles written by Mr Finlay and on receipt of the fees, included the monies in his salary and taxed them accordingly. Mr Finlay paid a fee of €200 per month to Barnardos for this service, which the charity classified as a donation.

The auditors also queried a claim in Barnardos’ board minutes of April 2015 which stated that an honorarium of €7,000 per annum paid by Dublin City Council to the CEO for acting as chair of Dolphin House Regeneration Board is donated by him to Barnardos.

The internal audit said it “did not see any evidence of a contribution in relation to this honorarium in 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015”. In reply, Barnardos confirmed that there were no donations in the years covered by the audit.

Despite some negative findings, auditors formed the opinion that Barnardos’ board “has established an appropriate system of internal control to ensure it meets its stewardship responsibilities”.

Between 2012-2014, the HSE/Tusla provided €37m in funding to Barnardos.

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