$10m compensation for some 3,000 civil servants due to HR errors

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·4-min read
Public Service Division at The Treasury. (SCREENCAP: Google Maps Streetview)
Public Service Division at The Treasury. (SCREENCAP: Google Maps Streetview)

SINGAPORE — Around $10 million will be compensated to some 3,000 former and current public service officers, following an over two-year process to trace errors made in the civil service’s human resource (HR) records.

Excess payments from others who were over-compensated will also not be recovered, “given that these resulted from errors made a long time ago”, said the Public Service Division (PSD) on Wednesday (18 November).

These errors – discovered while the civil service’s HR and payroll IT systems were being upgraded – arose primarily because of human errors in data entry and coding of the systems, the PSD said, adding that the IT systems also had inadequate error detection capabilities.

Once they were discovered, the division worked on tracing and validating the source of the specific errors in the IT systems, said the PSD, which worked with agencies across the civil service to check through some 102,000 current and past records dating back to the 1990s.

It also undertook additional checks and re-computations of benefits.

“Through the extensive process, which took more than two years, about 3,000 former and currently serving officers in the civil service were found to have been under-compensated as a result of the errors,” said the PSD. The affected individuals make up about two per cent of the civil servants in service over the past two decades.

The majority of the errors are related to inaccuracies in the full-time National Service duration records of male civil servants.

“Since 2002, the Civil Service has recognised the 'fitness cut' period that a full-time national serviceman was eligible for, as part of the NS period recognised for the purposes of determining starting salary and service benefits,” said the PSD.

“However, we discovered that the ‘fitness cut’ period was not included in the HR records of some male civil servants. This in turn affected their leave and other benefits,” it added.

The majority of the 1,400 civil servants who were under-compensated due to these errors had one to two months of shortfall in their full-time national service duration recorded, said the PSD.

The other errors involve inaccuracies in the IT algorithms used to calculate the medical leave wages for civil servants on service injury leave, adversely impacting some 1,000 individuals, as well as those in the HR system programme to compute the payments that some pensioners make when they retire from the Civil Service in order to receive annual allowances. The latter adversely affected about 500 individuals.

Individuals who have been under-compensated due to the errors will be contacted in phases.

In-service civil servants will be notified by their respective HR departments between November to March 2021. The process of validating and making good the shortfalls will be carried out from now till mid-2021.

Those who have left the service will receive a registered mail at their last known address, as well as phone calls and home visits, from now till March 2021.

“As we will be proactively reaching out to all individuals who have been under-compensated, we will like to assure both in-service and ex-public officers that there is no need to rush to contact us,” said the PSD. Those not contacted by March 2021 are not adversely impacted by the errors.

Individuals who have queries can approach the HR departments of the government agencies they are currently working in or were employed before they left the service. They can also write to Enquiry_2020@psd.gov.sg.

In his apology, PSD Permanent Secretary Dr Loh Khum Yean said, “We will make every effort to reach out to every adversely impacted individual to apologise for the error, explain the situation, as well as make good the discrepancy. We have rectified the system programming and built-in error detection capabilities to flag potential errors and ensure such inaccuracies do not recur.”

The PSD also said that it is working with all statutory boards, which have autonomy over their own HR policies, to check and verify their own HR records.

“This process of proactive checks is in progress. The statutory board will similarly make good any errors uncovered,” it added.

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