AN INTERNAL probe has found 528 North Ayrshire Council staff are still working for them – despite their temporary contracts having expired.

Council bosses are now set to tighten up procedures for handling temporary contracts after it emerged that some are falling through the cracks.

One health and community care worker’s contract was due to end in 2013.

Some 139 posts were highlighted where the roles have passed their end date and the services employing them have not “formally confirmed they have the budget to pay for the employees in post”.

The issues were uncovered after a series of internal audits of council services were carried out between May and August.

It comes despite the fact that: “Employee services provide a monthly list of all temporary posts, including their end date, to services to assist with post management”, the authority’s Audit and Scrutiny Committee heard last week.

The bulk of the 139 problematic temporary posts – some 58 roles – were in Health and Community Care services and scheduled to end in 2020, with a further 46 identified in education set to have ended this year.

Services including Children, Families and Justice, Connected Communities, Commercial, People and ICT and Physical Environment also had outstanding temporary posts where contracts had not been updated.

It led auditors to conclude that “substantial assurance” was gained from the processes surrounding the creation of temporary posts, but only “limited assurance” came from the management of temporary posts and contracts, with auditors concluding that: “Services are not always fulfilling their responsibility to manage their own temporary posts and contracts”.

The council now plans to create an automated report destined for heads of service to flag up any temporary posts which expired in the preceding three months. Email reminders will also be issued to departmental directors and service heads.

Councillor Marie Burns said: “I might have got this wrong, but to my mind, this isn’t the first time that we’ve had issues with services in terms of reporting, not just temporary staff but people leaving.

“Moving on, is there a training issue for managers here or is there anything else that could be done?”

Fiona Walker, head of service for people and ICT, responded: “You are right, this is not the first time that services have not concluded and done the job that they are there to do, so the action needs to be for services and managers to do that job. We will give them support.”