Nurses dispute payback debacle

ANGRY, demoralised Emerald Hospital nurses will meet today to voice concerns at Queensland Health’s attempts to recover overpaid wages.

Queensland Nurses Union branch secretary Judy Matthews said envelopes marked Private and Confidential, yet clearly emblazoned with Employee Overpayment Scheme on them, started arriving last Friday with some staff discovering they allegedly owed up to $4000.

The ongoing payroll saga has seen thousands of Queensland Health employees overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all over the past 15 months.

Ms Matthews said she would be urging members to take the option of having their matters referred to case managers for a thorough analysis of all payroll periods in question.

“We’re angry, frustrated, demoralised, unhappy - all of the above,” she said.

“One girl who was told she owed $4000 didn’t get paid this week so that didn’t make it any better.

“Some girls were unaware they had been overpaid until they got the letter.

“The payroll system has not stopped being a problem, and a lot of the nurses are not happy because they are still owed money by Queensland Health.

“Some members do accept overpayments have occurred, but they have no confidence in Queensland Health – they don’t trust the system because they’re asking themselves ‘is it correct?’.

“I want everybody to ask for case management to check they haven’t been underpaid before they have been overpaid.

“I do feel for the payroll staff because it must be very frustrating for them too.”

The letter said Queensland Health was committed to resolving underpayments before overpayments were addressed.

Ms Matthews said the problem was not confined to nursing staff at Emerald Hospital, but widespread throughout the employee base.

She applauded nurses for their professionalism in the face of frustrations.

“They are doing their job to the best of their ability, no matter what is going on with their payslips,” she said.

Queensland Health human resources deputy director-general John Cairns said the organisation would be sensitive to individual circumstances and work with them for a payment plan.

“We have been straight-up with our staff about how much is owed and we will give them choice and opportunity to pay the money back at a time that will suit them,” he said.

“If staff are not satisfied or wish to dispute any amount, we will sit down with them and work through it individually.”

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