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VICSES announces Historical Payments Project Review and independent findings

VICSES announces Historical Payments Project Review and independent findings

Published 20/06/2017
Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) has announced the findings of a Historical Payments Project Review and independent investigation it established after the discovery of possible irregular payments made to some staff.

As part of a modernisation program being implemented to align payroll, HR and other administrative systems, VICSES discovered in December, 2016 irregularities involving payments to approximately 130 staff over eight years.

VICSES immediately established a Historical Payments Review Project, and appointed Ernst & Young to investigate and provide advice on rectifying the situation.
The investigation identified $228,000 of under-payments, and $3,400 of over-payments, were made to some VICSES staff between 2009 (when VICSES took over the payroll function from the Department of Justice) and 2016. The investigation confirmed these irregularities were isolated to payments for night shift allowances and declared operations. Ordinary salary payments were not compromised.

Affected staff have been advised of the review outcome and steps being taken by VICSES to address this matter, and will be contacted independently if identified as being over- or under-paid. Staff that experienced an under-payment will be paid what they are owed, with interest.

VICSES is confident the investigation has discovered the basis for these irregular payments, which the Ernst and Young confirms were isolated to claims and subsequent payments for overtime entitlements during declared operations and night shift loading applied from the 2009 and 2012 Enterprise Bargaining Agreements.

VICSES is implementing Ernst and Young’s recommendations to strengthen payroll processes, including improvements to controls and accountabilities within the payroll process and establishing a quarterly payroll audit program.

Comments attributable to VICSES CEO Stephen Griffin:

"Staff confidence in payroll and administrative processes is of immense importance, which is why we urgently established the Review Project investigation upon discovering the payment irregularities."

"Averaged over eight years, the under-payments amounted to less than 1% of VICSES’s $20.5 million annual payroll, and were so incremental that those affected didn’t even notice. While this does not excuse the irregularity, it does put it into context."

"Ernst & Young’s forensic investigation was vital to establish the facts, identify the cause of the irregularities, and enable us to compensate staff that were regrettably under-paid through no fault of their own."

"With this investigation now concluded, we are confident that the basis for irregularities in relation to these assessments has been fully discovered and are in the process of repaying affected staff with interest, and implementing the recommendations made by Ernst & Young to strengthen our payroll processes."

For more information, contact:
State Media Duty Officer
Phone: 1300 783 933 Email: media@ses.vic.gov.au