Australia Ongoing Queensland Health payroll problems see staff overpaid by nearly $110m since 2015

00:01  02 october  2020
00:01  02 october  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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a group of people wearing costumes: About 40,000 current or former Queensland Health workers were being pursued for overpayment. (Supplied: Alyssa Currie) © Provided by ABC Health About 40,000 current or former Queensland Health workers were being pursued for overpayment. (Supplied: Alyssa Currie)

Queensland Health has overpaid its staff by nearly $110 million of taxpayers money over the past five years, leaving nearly a quarter of the state's public health workers with an outstanding debt.

Figures obtained by the ABC reveal Queensland Health overpaid its workers by tens of millions every year, and has been using debt collectors to recoup some of the money.

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Since the 2015-2016 financial year, $109,152,293 has been incorrectly paid to departmental staff.

As of mid-June 2020, about 40,000 current or former Queensland Health workers were being pursued to repay nearly $29 million in inflated wages.

Queensland Health confirmed a quarter of its employees still had an outstanding debt.

In a statement, a department spokesperson said most of the incorrect payments were administrative errors.

"Each fortnight, on average, more than 118,000 pays are processed, and more than $240 million net is paid to staff across Queensland," the spokesperson said.

"Overpayments account for less than 0.3 per cent of the fortnightly net pay run.

"The majority of overpayments are the result of the late submission of forms where retrospective adjustments were made for rostered shifts that were paid but not worked due to unplanned leave or other circumstances."

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Queensland Health said the majority of pay errors were recovered within three months of being identified.

But figures obtained by ABC News also revealed nearly $8 million had been referred to debt collection agencies for recovery since 2015.

"Employees and former employees are notified of overpayments and provided options to repay, regardless of the timeframe or the amount of the overpayment," the department spokesperson said.

"Queensland Health has a legal obligation to recover overpayments where practical.

"It is important to remember that overpayments are taxpayer funds."

In 2010, a payroll debacle at Queensland Health revealed workers had been underpaid, overpaid, or not paid at all, costing taxpayers $1.2 billion.

About $74 million in overpaid wages had to be recovered in the fiasco.

Queensland Health said only a small percentage of the current debts were associated with the payroll issues experienced in 2010.

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