ACAS accounts qualified by comptroller

The comptroller and auditor general has qualified the accounts of the
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service after unauthorised compensation
payments were made to former employees who lost their jobs.

Sir John Bourn acted after the Treasury refused to give retrospective
approval for payments that broke the rules.

A report from the National Audit Office said the payments were made last year
to six employees in relation to the termination of their employment. This
included a cash settlement of compensation for annual leave and holiday
entitlement not taken that exceeded approved early retirement scheme provisions,
and a payment of £56,000 in return for a resignation instead of a sacking.

Bourn said the payments had been in excess of what workers and former workers
were entitled. They therefore required prior approval by the Treasury, which had
not been sought.

The Treasury refused to give retrospective approval and Sir John said this
caused him to qualify his opinion of Acas’ accounts.

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