Four senior staff at a west of Ireland HSE-funded charity received a total of €67,000 in overtime and untaken holiday leave over a three-year period, despite not being entitled to such payments.
An audit commissioned by the HSE of governance in the Galway region of the Brothers of Charity revealed details of the unauthorised payments made between 2013 and 2015.
The charity provides a range of services to people with an intellectual disability and their families in Galway city and county.
It claimed the audit’s finding that the unauthorised payments represent significant non-compliance with its governance obligations is “unjust and unfair”.
Details of the findings, which were released under freedom of information legislation, were contained in a review published last August by Deloitte as part of sector-wide audits of Section 38 service providers.
A review of salaries paid to 60 senior staff working for the Brothers of Charity in Galway found four instances where employees were paid for additional hours worked and/or untaken annual leave. The audit stated: “There are no HSE national financial regulations that cover such payments."
Under HSE regulations on payroll, staff above Grade VII are not entitled to payment for additional hours, overtime or untaken leave.
The total value of the additional hours and untaken annual leave paid amounted to €20,000 in 2013, €19,000 in 2014 and €28,000 in 2015. The payments were approved by the charity’s director of services for the Galway region who was not a beneficiary of any of the payments.
Under a service agreement with the HSE, the Brothers of Charity agrees to adhere to Government pay policy including consolidated pay scales which means it is not authorised to pay salaries in excess of such rates for approved grades unless explicitly sanctioned by the Department of Health and/or the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
The Brothers of Charity said they believed the payments were appropriate as the extra hours had been worked.
However, the auditors observed: “We understand that there is a general expectation that senior management grades at Grade VIII and above, who work beyond their contracted hours, would not request compensation for the additional time worked and this would be the standard practice.”
The auditors also found the Brothers of Charity had not followed procurement guidelines in relation to 11 of 15 suppliers examined, with no contracts in place in 10 cases which ranged in value from €26,000 to €132,000.