A HSE job evaluation scheme saw almost every single applicant promoted and given pay increases, including more than 130 staff jumping at least two grades.
The audit, which saw some applicants receive pay hikes of up to €21,000, has been described as "unsatisfactory" by an internal audit.
The audit review found that 94% of 982 employees who applied for evaluation were promoted by at least one grade. Some 131 jumped two grades, and 7 moved up three grades on the scale.
A three-grade jump for a member of the HSE’s clerical staff, for example, would be equivalent to a pay-hike of roughly €21,000.
The audit was highly critical of the process, delivering 10 recommendations at the most urgent level of the scale, indicating major non-compliance with procedures, policies, or regulations, and requiring “immediate action”.
The Job Evaluation scheme itself, which was first opened in September 2016 to all clerical and administrative staff, was deemed to be "unsatisfactory", the lowest possible score on the HSE internal audit scale.
The audit found that the decisions of evaluators had been reversed following complaints from those being evaluated, and that appeals had been permitted despite this not being allowed for in the scheme’s rules. In one situation, a grade 3 worker was initially re-evaluated to grade 6, and reacted by sending an email saying they were “disgusted and humiliated” by the decision.
Following receipt of that mail the initial decision was rescinded by a director of human resources and changed to promotion to grade 7 instead.
Meanwhile, there were “large discrepancies” between original evaluator scores and re-evaluation scores, “which brings into question the robustness of the process”, the audit found.
It further noted that the evaluation teams dealing with certain technical posts displayed a “lack of expertise” in the role they were evaluating.
In one case, management complained that a role which had been upgraded by two levels without recognition of the grades of other roles in the area - a complaint which saw the person evaluated downgraded once more.
Among the 10 high priority recommendations made by the audit were the suggestion that the rules of the scheme be followed and not reversed by appeals from management, and that decisions should not be reversed based on an employee being dissatisfied with the result.
All recommendations were accepted by the HSE.
A spokesperson for the Forsa trade union welcomed the review.
"The audit, which was concluded in March 2021, highlighted some issues, which mainly concerned procedure and consistency. This is not unusual in a new scheme which, correctly, has been subject to audit and review," the spokesperson said.
"Furthermore, a robust quality assurance procedure has been developed and implemented, and each individual job evaluation is now subject to the quality assurance process."