As many as 51 employees at the council received extra wages totalling £83,271 over a four-year period. The council voted in April this year to allow 42 of the overpaid staff to keep their unearned rewards, writing off £73,978 in the process.
An internal audit of the Agresso payroll system in July last year reported “serious weaknesses” but failed to spot the excessive payments that were being authorised by mistake – and were only noticed by a member of staff four months later.
Councillor Martyn Pocock said: “The payroll overpayments and underpayments are extremely regrettable. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing; this is a very unfortunate case of human error, misunderstanding and a series of genuine mistakes.”
A subsequent report into how the errors went undetected found one reason was that the system was unable to account for specific contract conditions of employees – such as not being paid overtime once they reached a certain salary.
A number of the overpayments dated back to 2009 and included 16 members of staff being paid double time on a Sunday when they should have received time and a half, 15 staff being paid overtime when they should have received the time off instead, and 11 staff mistakenly receiving enhancements for weekend working.
The error also led to 58 separate council staff being underpaid by £31,877, who have all since been appropriately remunerated.