May 30, 2012

Health workers who were overpaid because of the bungled payroll system will now have to start repaying the government following the lifting of a moratorium granted by the former State Government.

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said removing Labor’s freeze on the recovery of overpayments would be “a key move” which would allow the government to recover $91 million in overpaid wages from 61,746 staff.

In the Darling Downs and West Moreton Health Service District, 7701 workers were overpaid; 6268 still owe the government repayments – a massive $8.7 million.

Of the 2932 overpaid workers in the Wid Bay Health Service District, 2394 still owe a total $3.4 million.

“The ongoing payroll saga has plagued Queensland Health and inconvenienced thousands of staff since March 2010 and I am keen to resolve it,” Mr Springborg said.

He said the ALP’s decision to grant a moratorium on repayments was “wilfully reckless”.

“Labor decisions such as the moratorium and its entire administration of the health payroll seem wilfully reckless. The moratorium on overpayments has created a mountain of debt for employees that was allowed to grow,” he said.

“To start moving forward, the first thing we have to do is lift the overpayments moratorium, so we can get on with the job of fixing Queensland Health. It is not only very important, but the ‘right’ thing to do for Queensland taxpayers.

“While some large overpayments are outstanding, most affected staff accept the need to pay the funds back. We will work with staff to ensure they understand why overpayments are being recovered and to support them through the process.

“I understand staff are frustrated, so I want to reassure them I am committed to ending the payroll saga. I want to thank them for their continued patience and understanding.”

He said the mountain of debt owed by staff was increasing at an average of $1.7 million each fortnight.

Mr Springborg also announced that the practice of accepting retrospective pay claims up to six years old would also cease.

“From September, a three-month cut-off will apply, a provision that mirrors current practice elsewhere in the public and private sectors,” he said.

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