Until 1 December 2020, the Ministry of the Interior shall recalculate the bonuses for the employees of the State Police and the State Border Guard, who were involved in mitigating the consequences of COVID-19 during the emergency in the country, as the State Audit Office has discovered during the audit on the bonus calculation procedure that the bonuses have not been calculated fairly and proportionate to the actual contribution in all cases. Therefore, one cannot state that officials have also been remunerated equivalently for equivalent work.
In March, the government decided that officials in the Ministry of the Interior with special ranks who would be directly involved in mitigating the consequences of COVID-19 from 12 March to 31 May would be entitled to bonuses for working in high-risk and high-load conditions related to the COVID-19 outbreak and mitigating its effects. The Cabinet of Ministers allocated 2.5 million euros for this purpose. Still, the institutions of the Ministry of the Interior actually spent almost four times less, that is, 667,103 euros. Significant differences between the planned and actually spent funding relate with the fact that both the number of officials for whom bonuses were set and the amount of bonuses set were lower.
The Minister of the relevant sector decided on the use of allocated funding. The government only stipulated that the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Municipal Institutions should be respected providing that the total amount of bonuses could not exceed 60% of the monthly salary. According to the decision of the Minister of the Interior, the bonus could reach 20% of the monthly salary, but not less than 7% to the employees of the sector who had direct and recorded and proved contact with COVID-19 infected or potentially infected individuals, COVID-19 risk group patients, who should be on quarantine of self-isolate, as well as officials involved in the testing process.
The State Police and the State Border Guard used complicated formulas to calculate the amount of the bonus based on the accurate record of the working hours of each employee allocated for the specific purpose. However, the State Audit Office considers that this approach had not resulted as expected because the algorithm used for the calculation did not ensure that the amount of bonuses for each employee was determined in proportion to the time worked in specific conditions.
The audit discovered that the amount of bonuses was increased unreasonably for those employees of the Ministry of the Interior who had worked a small number of hours compared to others in specific conditions. In contrast, the amount of bonuses was reduced for those who worked for an entire month or almost a month. One also detected the cases where the amount of bonuses differed tenfold for the same number of hours worked in specific conditions.
For example, two inspectors of the State Border Guard were determined a bonus of 20% of their monthly salary in April, that is, 187.80 euros each, although one of them fulfilled the duties associated with the COVID-19 for 182 hours while the other inspector spent almost twice as less time, that is, 96 hours.
In its turn, an example from the bonus calculations at the State Police shows that two junior inspectors of the State Police performed duties related to direct contact with COVID-19 infected, potentially infected or at-risk individuals for 12 hours in April and both were determined a bonus of 9% of their monthly salary. However, the amount of bonus differed several times because the bonus was 80.01 euros for one junior inspector and only 12.00 euros for the other. The difference arose from the calculation procedure, namely, that one of the inspectors had worked a full month. The bonus of 9% was calculated from his entire monthly salary. At the same time, the other had worked only three working days in that month, as he had an annual leave for the rest of the month, so his bonus was calculated from the monthly salary of three working days.
The State Audit Office concludes that using a similar procedure for calculating, for example, night work bonuses would have been a much better solution when the institutions of the Ministry of the Interior intended to calculate those bonuses in proportion to the precisely recorded working hours. Thus, the bonuses would be calculated for all employees according to the same, clearly understandable, and easy-to-explain principles.
The minimum bonus determined in the agencies of the Ministry of the Interior was 7.28 euros, whereas the maximum bonus was up to 251.00 euros per month. The average bonus set per employee did not exceed 103 euros per month. Considering the detailed recording and complicated calculation procedure, the State Police and the State Border Guard paid the bonuses at least one month later than the rest of the monthly salary for the corresponding month.
The State Audit Office recommended the Ministry of the Interior to ensure that officials received fair remuneration for their contribution in proportion to the time worked in direct contact with COVID-19 infected, potentially infected or at-risk individuals.
The Ministry of the Interior has undertaken to recalculate the bonuses by 1 December 2020 by safeguarding that the bonuses are granted per the individual contribution of each official of the State Police and the State Border Guard as far as possible. The auditors have calculated that several hundred officials will receive an additional payment to the amount already paid.