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Pay and employment law

2014 Annual report No. 22 - Federal Ministry of Finance enhances drivers’ safety at work

The Federal Ministry of Finance has taken up our audit recommendation and improved workplace safety for drivers within its remit. To this end, it defined more precisely the requirements concerning medical examinations assessing the drivers’ fitness to drive. Furthermore, the Ministry instructed the units of the Federal Finance Office North to observe applicable provisions governing working hours and minimum rest periods and to record periods of availability and waiting. The aim is to reduce the risk of personal injuries and damage to property in traffic accidents for which the Federal Government could be held liable.

Provisions governing working hours and workplace safety of drivers in the public sector are laid down in a separate collective agreement. According to this agreement and in contrast to the German Working Hours Act, employer and employee may agree on longer working hours and shorter minimum rest periods if this is required to ensure a proper functioning of the carpool service. However, agreeing on longer working hours is only admissible if these include periods of availability and waiting. Also, the employer has to offer annual medical examinations.

We found that the Federal Finance Office North inadequately complied with workplace safety requirements in several respects. For example, the Office was unable to prove the need for longer working hours in order to ensure the proper functioning of the carpool service. In addition, in case of longer working hours the Office failed to record whether employees had periods of availability and waiting. The employer did not regularly offer medical examinations assessing the drivers’ fitness to drive. Furthermore, the employer failed to take action if the drivers waived such examinations.

The Federal Ministry of Finance followed our recommendations. It requested the Federal Finance Office North to address the shortcomings found. Moreover, the Ministry pledged to inform all bodies within its remit that in case of a traffic accident caused by a driver’s poor health, drivers may be held liable for damage if they had waived medical examinations. This is to reduce the risk of personal injuries and damage to property in a traffic accident for which the Federal Government could be held liable.

 

2013 Annual report No. 25 - Federal fiscal administration reduces risks related to electronic salary systems operated by service providers  

The Federal Ministry of Finance specifies the rules of procedure for salary processing. This helps to reduce risks related to transmission errors and manipulations in connection with electronic salary systems operated by service providers. For instance, such payments may not be authorised by one staff member alone.

We found deficiencies in the authorisation and recording of salary payments, which are due to risks involved in computer-assisted salary payment systems operated by service providers. Where these risks materialise, salary payments could be unlawfully authorised over a period of several years.

If the documents substantiating the payments in question, such as performance appraisals, work time records or drivers' logbooks, are not fully submitted to the service provider, the personnel management service is required to duly ensure and document the accuracy of the facts and of the accounts. Furthermore, personnel management staff in charge needs to have access to salary data of all staff.

Our audit findings and recommendations have prompted the Ministry to refine the rules of procedure for salary processing. In particular, it has established clear rules for compliance with the cross-check principle, according to which two staff members need to certify the accuracy of the facts and authorise payments. In addition, the Ministry intends to implement a new IT application to grant the personnel management services access rights to pay slips. This will help to reduce risks related to transmission errors and potential manipulations that might lead to excess staff expenditure for an indefinite period of time.

 

2012 Annual report No. 08 - Improper application of labour law and collective agreements with unions: Oversight over cultural institutions is tightened

In response to our recommendation, the Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Media tightened oversight standards for his grantees. Thus, he/she has developed oversight function from incident-related response in individual cases to proactive steering.

The Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Media gives grants to cultural institutions in the capital, historical museums and memorials. Depending on their legal form, these institutions come under the Commissioner’s legal supervision or are audited by him/her in his/her capacity as grant-awarding authority. They always have to apply the collective agreements made with unions by the Federal Government or at least have to apply these agreements as a yardstick.

When auditing various grantee institutions, we found similar weaknesses in the application of the relevant provisions of labour law, collective agreements with unions and budgetary law. Therefore we audited the way in which the Commissioner discharged oversight functions vis-à-vis the grantee institutions.

Our audit has revealed that the relevant units of the Commissioner’s Office frequently lack the necessary special expertise and information about the status and quality of mission performance in the human resources management units of the grantees. Furthermore, the Commissioner had not always laid down unambiguous guidance as to the allocation of remits and the procedures within his/her Office.

In response to our recommendation, the Commissioner will strengthen preventive oversight tools and will use them systematically to conduct on-the-spot checks on the situation within the grantee institutions. The performance of this oversight function is assisted by an audit catalogue. Moreover, the Commissioner intends to produce further guidance e.g. on temporary employment contracts to ensure that procedures are implemented correctly. Moreover, the Commissioner has developed a continued training programme to identify the continued training needs of staff in the relevant organisational units. We will monitor the Commissioner’s compliance with the commitments made.

 

2011 Annual report No. 80 - Research institutions should act wisely when granting staff extra payments beyond collectively agreed remuneration  

Research institutions have granted their staff considerable amounts of extra pay not provided for under collective agreements. The central regulations issued by the Federal Research Ministry on such extra pay are partly vague.

 

2011 Annual report No. 43 - Federal Railways Fund pays its staff better than other federal departments and agencies  

The Federal Railways Fund pays those of its employees who do not have the status of civil servants significantly better than is provided for under the Collective Agreement for the Public Service. In addition, the Fund granted unjustified performance bonuses and pay supplements amounting to nearly half a million euros in 2010.

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