It took the Defence Forces an unduly long time to correct flaws in its wage-payment system, Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja points out in a recent decision. What was involved was the personnel’s basic subsistence.
In April 2011 the Defence Forces inaugurated a new wage-payment system, with which new surprising problems continually manifested themselves as it was brought into operation. The effects of a pay increase in May last year were still being corrected in conjunction with the wage payment in February this year.
The errors arose mainly in payments of additional wages and increments, and thousands of employees were left without them. When the errors were corrected by paying the missing wages direct to the wage-earners’ accounts, additional inclarities were caused. Some were overpaid and the extra had to be demanded back.
The problems were associated mainly with faults in the time data interface, which meant that large volumes of data were incorrectly transferred. It was only in the autumn that the time data interface was corrected.
According to the report supplied by the Defence Staff, other factors in the background to the problems were technical malfunctions, saving faults and lack of competence.
The system had been repaired for the most part in the course of January 2012. However, individual corrections were still being made.
A wage is a key right
"Entitlement to a wage is a key right that, according to the law, belongs to a public servant,” Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja points out in his decision.
An authority must ensure that public servants receive the benefits and rights that flow from their contractual relationship in the way to which they are entitled.
The General Staff reported that the system was tested before its inauguration and no defects were noticed then. Since new problems continually manifested themselves in the system, this indicated in the Deputy-Ombudsman's opinion that testing had not been sufficiently thorough. Something that was not clear, either, was whose task testing the system was.
According to the General Staff, the biggest problems were caused by the time data interface that a private company had supplied. Since private companies are not subject to the Ombudsman's oversight, it was not possible using the means that oversight of legality provides to ascertain unambiguously what parties had committed errors,” the Deputy-Ombudsman notes.
In any case, the Defence Forces, as the party that ordered the system, bore responsibility for the fact that a functionally incomplete wages-payment system was approved for use.
Since shortcomings were also observed in the competence of the persons using the new system, Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja finds it appropriate to ask whether the training provided was adequate.
The Deputy-Ombudsman became aware of the problems with the system in conjunction with an inspection visit in June 2011, when he was told that there were numerous errors in wages.
Since the intention was to begin using the new system for handling conscripts' per diem allowances, he took the matter under investigation on his own initiative. Five complaints were also made to the Ombudsman about the Defence Forces' problems with paying wages.
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