Some staff in Leinster House were working so much overtime they almost doubled their salaries, according to an internal audit.
The inquiry found two employees in the superintendent’s office had received overtime payments worth 81% and 86% of their basic salaries.
The first employee's salary went from €36,801 to €69,248, including €29,641 in overtime and €2,805 in allowances; the second's from €30,747 to €63,244, including €26,374 in overtime as well as allowances of €6,122.
The audit also found the first employee had been working on average 61 hours a week during the period they examined, which was in breach of working time legislation.
It said over a six-week period, a total of 2,108 hours of overtime had been worked in the superintendent’s office — which was the equivalent of about eight extra full-time staff per week.
The internal audit said: “68 employees working overtime were in receipt of payments that equated to more than 20% of their basic salary. Of these 68, seven were in receipt of overtime equating to more than 50% of their basic salary.”
Overtime payments were also an issue in the bar and catering section of Leinster House, according to the report.
It said over a six-week period, the bar had paid out 204 hours of overtime, which would have been the equivalent of an extra staff member each week.
The problem was more pronounced in catering, where 826 hours of overtime were paid, which the audit said added up to three extra staff per week.
The audit queried why a more permanent solution in the form of either new staff, agency staff, or a private firm had not been considered.
It said each of these options would result in “the same level of staff but at a basic pay rate rather than an overtime rate plus allowances directly linked to overtime”.
The audit also found there was a poor system for time-keeping. In one case, a person was signed in as working from 9.00 to 11.40.
However, there was no way of being certain if this had been a short two-and-a-half-hour shift or a marathon working day from morning until night.
The audit said consideration should be given to clock-in machines for all Oireachtas staff.
The internal audit also said there were difficulties for some employees in taking their full entitlements but that there were limits on how many days could be carried over and for how long.
The report said: “[Three of eight] employees [examined] carried forward excessive amounts of days between years one and two and years two and three of their cycle.”
It highlighted cases where two staff members had built up holiday backlogs of more than 60 days each.
The internal audit had been finalised in April 2020 and later sought by a member of staff from the Oireachtas under Freedom of Information legislation.
However, access was denied, with the Oireachtas saying it could compromise negotiations that were ongoing with staff about the issues flagged in the report.
The staff member took their case to the Information Commissioner and was partly successful with a copy of the audit subsequently released.