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Qld health payroll moratorium

Queensland Health stops collecting overpayments, for now, to refocus on fixing underpayments.

In another twist to Queensland Health's payroll problems, Premier Anna Bligh has put a moratorium on chasing overpayments.

The about face follows heavy campaigning by the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) for the government to first address underpayments before pursuing those who have been overpaid.

QNU secretary Beth Mohle said nurses, midwives and other health workers were still waiting to be correctly paid and deserve to be made a priority.

She said the number of health workers who have been, or still are, being under paid is not known.

"Part of this package allows for workers time to work out if they have been under paid," Mohle said.

"There is still a problem with the system and every pay fortnight there are still under and over payments.

"It covers the whole of Queensland Health and it's been going for 15 months."

She said the government's moratorium still needs to be passed at the QNU annual conference later this week.

However, she was confident it would be accepted and an independent ombudsman would ultimately determine how long the moratorium would be lifted and when claims for under payments would cease.

About 38,000 people have received letters asking them to pay back $62 million in wages mistakenly paid to them when a faulty payroll system was introduced last year.

The highest overpayment was almost $100,000, while most were mistakenly paid an average of between $1100 to $1500.

Those overpaid by up to $200 (about 22,000 workers), will have their debts wiped, at a total cost of $1.6 million.

Bligh hopes the moratorium will restore staff confidence in Queensland Health.

"This is about giving doctors, nurses and all other health staff confidence in their payroll system,” she said.

"In my view, the approach adopted by Queensland Health in seeking to recover overpayments from staff while it was clear that many employees were still owed entitlements was unacceptable."

Health Minister Geoff Wilson - he inherited the payroll debacle from Deputy Premier Paul Lucas who has since changed portfolios - conceded Queensland Health had not fulfilled a basic obligation.

"The first obligation of any employer is to pay their workers what they're entitled to in a timely fashion - it’s clear Queensland Health has not done so,” he said in a statement.


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