An employee of NUI Galway was paid more than €90,000 while absent from work on sabbatical leave that didn’t meet the university’s own standards for paid leave.
According to NUIG’s end of year financial statements, it paid out €134,000 in settlements, including severances, up to September last year.
But that figure didn’t include €91,000 paid to one staff member over a period that the university described as sabbatical leave, which the staff member was on right before taking a severance package.
According to the Irish Examiner, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy submitted a report accompanying the accounts that brought the payment to light, and questions whether it was properly handled.
“The circumstances of the case were not in accordance with certain key conditions of the university’s sabbatical leave payments scheme,” Mr McCarthy wrote.
No other details were provided about the staff member in question, whether they were a member of the academic or administrative staff, how long they were absent, and what severance was paid to that person after.
As a publicly funded institution, NUIG‘s payments for sabbatical leave are reviewed by the Higher Education Authority.
A Public Accounts Committee in the Dáil relased a report last year praising the practice of sabbatical leave and the benefits it can have for academic staff.
But it also warned that during its examination of spending and governance, serious questions were raised about pay practices while on sabbatical leave.
The accounts from NUI Galway show that over a year it paid €5.2 million for goods and services from 81 suppliers, the procurement procedures for which didn’t comply with national guidelines.
President of NUI Galway Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said in June that the university has non-pay related spending of €82 million with its suppliers.
The university has procedures to detect non-compliance with its procedures such a a database listing all contracts and payments over €25,000 that flags instances of non-competitive procurement.