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3,000 current and former civil servants ‘under-compensated’ due to HR system errors; Govt to make up S$10m shortfall

SINGAPORE — The Public Service Division (PSD) will reimburse S$10 million in total to about 3,000 former and current civil servants after they were found to have been under-compensated because of errors in their human resource (HR) records.

Most of the errors revolved around the records of the duration of full-time National Service done by male civil servants.

Most of the errors revolved around the records of the duration of full-time National Service done by male civil servants.

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  • The Public Service Division said the mistakes arose mainly from human error 
  • Most of them centred on inaccuracies in the duration records of full-time National Service done by male civil servants
  • The civil service will make up the shortfall of about S$10 million

 

SINGAPORE — The Public Service Division (PSD) will reimburse S$10 million in total to about 3,000 former and current civil servants after they were found to have been under-compensated because of errors in their human resource (HR) records.

The mistakes, which arose chiefly from human errors in data entry and the coding of HR and information technology payroll systems, were discovered when the civil service’s IT systems were being upgraded, PSD announced in a statement on Wednesday (Nov 18). 

PSD said the "planning and requirement scoping" of the systems began in 2017.

These IT systems, moreover, did not have adequate capabilities to detect errors, PSD said, adding that it was “deeply sorry” for the blunders.

Most of the inaccuracies revolved around the records of the duration of full-time National Service (NS) done by male civil servants. 

PSD discovered that the “fitness cut” period — under which eligible physically fit male enlistees are granted a shorter stint in full-time NS — was excluded from the HR records of some male civil servants, as part of the NS period used to determine their starting salaries and benefits. 

Most of the 1,400 civil servants affected by this error had a shortfall of one or two months in the recorded duration of their full-time NS.

This, in turn, affected their leave and other benefits.

Since 2002, the civil service has considered this “fitness cut” period to determine benefits. 

At present, enlistees who cross a certain physical fitness threshold — at least 61 out of 100 points on an individual physical proficiency test — are enlisted two months later than their peers who do not meet this standard.  

PSD said that other errors centred on inaccuracies in the algorithms used to calculate wages for those on service injury leave, which is typically taken when a civil servant is hurt on duty or en route to work.

Under the Work Injury Compensation Act, injured employees qualify for service injury leave and will be paid medical-leave wages as compensation.

About 1,000 civil servants were affected by an error that resulted in their gross monthly salaries, instead of their average monthly earnings, being used to compute their medical-leave wages. 

Average monthly earnings are derived from an officer’s earnings over a 12-month period before an accident and generally include bonuses and overtime pay, on top of his or her gross monthly wage.

Separately, errors in Central Provident Fund (CPF) rates entered into the HR IT system resulted in some civil servants, who were eligible for retirement benefits, refunding more of their employer’s CPF contributions to the Government than was necessary. This was done in exchange for yearly allowances after retirement. 

This group of civil servants received full CPF contributions during their time with the Government, but chose to refund the contributions so that period of service would count towards their retirement benefits. 

This affected 500 or so civil servants, who will be repaid the excess sums. 

CHECKS ON RECORDS TOOK OVER TWO YEARS

PSD said that once the errors were discovered, it worked with civil service agencies to sift through about 102,000 current and past records, which date to the 1990s.

It also performed extra checks on and recomputations of civil servants’ 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. 

“This is about 2 per cent of the civil servants in service over the past two decades,” said PSD.

The civil service will make up the shortfall in benefits for past and present officers.

“While there were over-compensated individuals, we will not be recovering the excess payments, given that these resulted from errors made a long time ago. We will update all records to ensure accuracy going forward,” PSD said. 

Mr Loh Khum Yean, PSD’s permanent secretary, said that the public service was deeply sorry for the errors and the inconvenience they have caused. 

“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.”

PSD said that while statutory boards have autonomy over their HR policies, it is working with them to verify their records. 

This process of proactive checks is under way and the statutory boards will correct any errors discovered.

Under-compensated civil servants will receive notifications from their HR departments from this month to March next year. The shortfalls will be remedied from now till the middle of next year. 

Those who have left the civil service will get notifications by registered mail, telephone or through home visits from now till March next year.

PSD said: “As we will be proactively reaching out to all individuals who have been under-compensated, we would like to assure both in-service and ex-public officers that there is no need to rush to contact us.” 

Civil servants with questions may contact the HR departments of the government agencies where they are working or were employed before they left the service. 

They may also write to //enquiry_2020 [at] psd.gov.sg">enquiry_2020 [at] psd.gov.sg

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PSD civil servants under-compensated error payroll system

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