Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (511)

Patrick O'Donovan


511. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health the progress that his Department has made in respect of auditing those sections 38 and 39 organisations funded from his Department; the level of compliance in those organisations in respect of pay practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14698/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

At my request, the HSE has taken urgent action to ensure Section 38 agencies which have been found to be in breach of health sector pay policy are brought into compliance.

The process which has been ongoing with the Section 38 Agencies to reach compliance with government pay policy is nearing completion. Since the beginning of the year the Regional Directors of Performance and Integration (RDPI's), with support from Regional HR, have been working with each Agency to verify where there are deviations from pay policy and to assist the Agencies to become compliant with health sector pay policy.

In line with the pay policy, organisations which wished to continue payment of an unapproved allowance were invited to submit their business cases for consideration by the HSE. Business cases were also required for the continued payment of allowances which are not encompassed by or in line with the Department of Health Consolidated Salary Scales but may have been sanctioned in the past. A total of 202 business cases have now been received. Where the HSE is satisfied that there are legitimate reasons for the continuation of an allowance, these will be submitted to the Department of Health for sanction. The Department of Health will liaise as appropriate with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

An Internal Review Panel, made up of members of the HSE Leadership Team, have reviewed each business case in detail and a report on their deliberations is expected shortly. 143 business cases were received in respect of Senior Managers, i.e. those at a salary level of Grade VIII and above, for consideration by the Internal Review Panel. In addition, 59 business cases in respect of employees on a salary level below Grade VIII have been reviewed by the Regional Directors of Performance and Integration with support from Regional HR.

As indicated above the Internal Review Panel process in the HSE is nearing completion. The Department expects to receive a report on the outcome of the Review Panel's conclusions shortly and will then consider any business cases that the Review Panel consider may be justified, in consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Due to the complexity of the issues involved, it is difficult to give a precise timescale as to when this issue will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion, however, I am determined that the payment of unapproved allowances to senior executives will be eliminated in an expeditious manner.

Employees of Section 39 organisations are not public servants. They are not included in the HSE employment control ceiling, are not bound by the Department of Health Consolidated Salary Scales and are not members of a public service pension scheme. The Government, however is determined to ensure that public pay policy is respected across the health service and to that end, at my request, the Director General of the HSE has written to 353 Section 39 funded agencies in receipt of HSE funding of more than €250,000, requesting that they have due regard to public pay policy particularly in respect of senior managers.