Audit exposes overpayments at council
Date posted: 26-07-2012
THURROCK Council has been blasted by auditors for a catalogue of payment and process errors.
The report highlighted a number of errors in payments including an overpayment to the tune of £11,000 to a former employee in a compromise agreement.
The report by auditors RMS Tenon reported that redundancy pay-outs and compromise agreements had been made to 84 members of staff and had totalled nearly £1.7 million.
Council boss John Kent made reference to the report last night when he asked chairman of the council’s audit committee, cllr Tunde Ojetola” “Would you rather we just sacked them and didn’t pay them?”
Cllr Ojetola did not reply.
Amongst the recommendations in the report are:
1. HR should ensure that staff on probation do not receive a progression increment in April. Actioning increments when they are not due places additional pressure on staffing budgets. It could also cause problems if the services of the employee were terminated after their probation period as the awarding of an increment suggests an adequate level of performance has been achieved.
This year 2012/13 the incremental progression process in Delphi excludes employees with less than 6 months service unless this is overridden through authorisation by the manager on their incremental list or HR. It also excludes employees with grade and scale point changes within the last 6 months which were identified and checked against the Manager and HR approval then manually uplifted.
The 4 individuals identified in the test results of the 2011/12 progression will be investigated by Gill Smeeton to establish why they were processed while on probation and actions will be put in place to ensure this does not happen again.
The auditor sent GS six names of staff who were listed as on probation, these have been investigated and the findings are below:
1) First employee was checked and according to the tracker, the probation list and Delphi, was not awarded an increment. GS to query this with Audit
2) Two employees started in Oct 2010, so should not have been paid an increment.
HR would recommend that as part of the ERP process, training for managers should be robust and thorough in how and when to approve claims.
2. More care should be exercised in preparing business cases and identifying the cost implications of redundancy and compromise agreements.
The Council’s Recruitment Policy requires that any member of staff involved in the selection of staff should satisfy themselves that they are appropriately trained and can comply with the requirements of the Policy. The recruitment licence should need to be renewed by attending a recruitment update every three years.
The reason why Pay in Lieu of Notice is granted should be clearly documented and it should only be agreed in exceptional circumstances.
The Council should consider recovering the overpayment of Pay in Lieu of Notice
The Recruitment Team send L&D the names of managers on each recruiting panel and L&D check to see if they have undertaken R&S training. If no one on the panel has attended the panel chair and Senior HR Advisor are emailed to advise the panel are not appropriately trained and action needs to be taken.
In the case where an overpayment of £19k has been identified the figure was £11K. The Head of Service for Finance has commenced the recovery process.
The process has been changed to ensure that the leaver form and business case are checked together to see if there are any changes to the agreed payment noted on the business case. A note to remind payroll of this has also been included on the business case next to the PILON amount.
3. The Head of Learning & Universal Outcomes should ensure that future cases of professional incompetence are referred to the General Teaching Council.
Although some schools have a different HR provider, the Head of Learning and Universal Outcomes should pick up these issues when they are referred to the Authority for formal authorisation. HR advice should be sought if required.
The council will on a termly basis remind HR providers to community schools that any potential Capability and or Compromise Agreement issues will be flagged up at the termly HR provider/LA liaison meetings. School HR providers will be asked to contact the LA named contact to give early notice. The LA named officer will liaise with HR for Thurrock council and maintain a log of cases. They will be escalated to the General Teaching council or successor body when appropriate.