By JR on Saturday, July 02, 2011
After well over a year of trying, they can't even get their payroll right
A TERMINALLY ill Queensland Health employee has been slapped with a bill for $45 for overpaid wages despite the troubled department's $200 waiver policy.
The revelation came as hundreds of health workers vented their anger via social media, only to be gagged by furious bureaucrats in damage control.
One Facebook poster told of being "severely chastised" in an "intimidating" email warning staff not to publicly air their frustration. Undeterred, the staffer said she would no longer allow fear of retribution to silence her and lauded the strength in numbers generated by the online response.
A Queensland Health Payroll Disaster - Fightback page was created on Thursday morning after 38,000 staff received letters asking them to repay a collective $62 million in overpaid wages.
Within 24 hours the page had attracted 500 respondents. By yesterday afternoon that had almost doubled and was steadily climbing last night.
Dozens used the page to tell of botched bills received for alleged overpayments, including one employee who had not worked with Queensland Health for two years.
Another payroll staffer told The Courier-Mail of the deep upset caused to a terminally ill man confronted with a letter stating he owed $44.73 in overpaid wages.
The letter was also inconsistent in that it included an invoice for just 1c.
"The poor bugger. They nearly lost him last week and then they got this letter and it just stressed him to the hilt," the payroll officer said.
QH has previously promised it would not chase any overpayments under $200 and it is understood the man's bill has now been wiped.
But the mistake is not isolated, with The Courier-Mail revealing on Thursday a retired nurse was issued with a bill for 1c. "I felt like laughing. I thought why would you waste the money on postage for 1c," she said.
Many who posted online were critical of the Queensland Nurses Union for failing to take action during the long-running payroll debacle.
The nurses administering the Facebook page are preparing a petition to send to Premier Anna Bligh and have also urged health workers to ask for a complete review of their wages, not only those payslips highlighted as overpaid.
Treasurer Andrew Fraser admitted bills for overpayments could be wrong, contradicting QH human resources deputy director-general John Cairns's assertions on Tuesday that they were accurate.
Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said the Government was "spinning and misleading" health workers.