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‘Am I affected?’: What you need to know about HR system errors over benefits for current and former civil servants

SINGAPORE — A total of about S$10 million is set to be repaid to some 3,000 current and former civil servants found to have been under-compensated owing to errors in the civil service’s human resource (HR) records, the Public Service Division revealed on Wednesday (Nov 18).

Human errors in data entry and the coding of the human resource and information technology payroll systems for the civil service contributed mainly to mistakes in computation for payment of salaries and other benefits.

Human errors in data entry and the coding of the human resource and information technology payroll systems for the civil service contributed mainly to mistakes in computation for payment of salaries and other benefits.

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  • About 3,000 former and current civil servants have been under-compensated owing to errors in HR records
  • Most of the errors centre on records of the duration of full-time National Service
  • This, in turn, affected the benefits received by male civil servants
  • Others received lower medical-leave wages or refunded more CPF contributions to the Government than necessary

 

SINGAPORE — A total of about S$10 million is set to be repaid to some 3,000 current and former civil servants found to have been under-compensated owing to errors in the civil service’s human resource (HR) records, the Public Service Division revealed on Wednesday (Nov 18).

The errors affected about 2 per cent of civil servants in service over the past 20 years. 

The blunders arose mainly from human errors in data entry and the coding of its HR and information technology payroll systems. They were discovered during an upgrade of the systems.

If you are a current or former civil servant, you may be anxious to find out if the errors affect you.

TODAY answers some of the burning questions you may have:

AM I AFFECTED?

1. National servicemen

If you completed a shorter full-time National Service (NS) stint because you met a certain physical fitness standard, you could be among the 1,400 male civil servants affected by an omission of what is known as the “fitness cut” period from HR records.

Under this “fitness cut” period, eligible physically fit male enlistees are granted a shorter stint in full-time NS. Since 2002, the civil service has taken into account this period in computing benefits for male civil servants.

These include:

  • Starting salaries

  • Retirement benefits

  • Higher leave eligibility

  • Long service awards

  • Quotas for extended sick leave

If you are in the affected group, you will have your full-time NS records updated in the HR computer system. The public service will also rectify the shortfall in your starting pay where applicable, recompute pension amounts, compensate you if you tapped your no-pay leave because of insufficient sick leave, among other steps.

2. Injured in the line of duty

If you have taken service injury leave because of a work accident and had been paid medical-leave wages as compensation, you could be one of the 1,000 or so civil servants who were under-compensated.

Should you come under this group, your gross monthly salaries — instead of your average monthly earnings — may have been used to compute your medical-leave wages, resulting in a shortfall.

Average monthly earnings are based on your income over a 12-month period before the accident and generally include bonuses and overtime pay, on top of your gross monthly wage.

The shortfall will be returned to you.

3. Pensioners

If you refunded the civil service’s contributions to your Central Provident Fund (CPF) account in order to receive yearly pension allowances, you could be among the 500-odd people affected.

If you fall under this group, you would have received full CPF contributions when you worked for the Government, but chose to refund the contributions so that period of service would count towards your retirement benefits.

Because of errors in some of the rates entered into the HR computer system, you might have refunded more CPF contributions to the Government than was necessary. You will be returned the excess sums.

WILL PSD CONTACT ME IF I’M IN THE AFFECTED GROUP?

1. Current civil servants

You will be notified by your HR department between this month and March next year if you are affected.

The compensation will be disbursed sometime from now until the middle of next year.

If you have questions, you may also approach your HR department.

2. Former civil servants

You will receive a notification via registered mail at your last known address or a phone call or home visit from now until March next year.

There is no need to rush to contact PSD. It will reach out to everyone who has been under-compensated.

If you have questions, you may approach the HR department of the government agency where you were employed.

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

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Most of the missteps resulted from human errors in data entry, and the coding of HR and IT payroll systems.

The errors surfaced when the civil service’s IT systems were being upgraded. PSD said the "planning and requirement scoping" of the system began in 2017.

Once it discovered the errors, PSD worked with civil service agencies to go 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.

While some civil servants were over-compensated, PSD said that it would not recover excess payments, given that these resulted from errors made a long while ago.

The public service has since corrected all the errors in its IT systems and will increase training for corporate service officers in areas such as system management and data integration. There will also be a system of regular audits and checks.

While statutory boards have autonomy over their HR policies, PSD said that it was also working with them to verify their records, a process that is still under way. Any errors detected will be corrected.

Related topics

PSD civil servants under-compensated error payroll system

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