RTÉ staff don’t need driving licence for car allowance and some employees earn as little as €24k a year, new documents reveal

A document dump to the Oireachtas Media Committee on Monday has also disclosed that some staff at the national broadcaster are on as little as €24,000 gross salary per year – which is some €6,000 less than the living wage.

The national broadcaster has confirmed to the committee ahead of an appearance by top executives on Wednesday that as of the end of last year 61 people were in receipt of a car allowance.

However, the station has told TDs and senators: “Car allowances form part of some employee remuneration and there is no requirement to have a driving licence.”

It is unclear how many – if any – of the 61 employees do not have a driving licence.

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The disclosure forms part of some 178 documents submitted to the committee ahead of an appearance by director general Kevin Bakhurst, board members and other top executives on Wednesday to answer more questions about financial controversies at Montrose.

According to the documents, the car allowances are non-pensionable and paid either fortnightly or monthly and are unvouched. The total outlay by the station on car allowances is nearly €657,000-a-year.

The most common allowance is between €12,500 and €13,000, which 17 employees receive. Twelve employees receive an allowance of between €7,000 and €7,500. Ten employees receive an allowance of between €1,000 and €1,500. Six employees receive the maximum allowance of between €24,000 and €25,000. No names are disclosed.

The documents also show that the RTÉ’s membership of the exclusive Soho House club in London was only used as accommodation for the station’s former commercial director Geraldine O’Leary and a staff member – and not for business meetings as previously claimed.

Documents previously released to the committee show RTÉ spent more than €4,200 on the members’ club, with Ms O’Leary telling the committee in July that it was used for meetings with clients because RTÉ no longer had offices in London.

But in the latest documents RTÉ said that that accommodation was booked for Ms O’Leary and another member of the commercial department on two occasions – in December 2022 and April 2023 – but confirmed that no meetings took place in Soho House.

RTÉ has also said it will not disclose the names of its 100 highest earners due to concerns about data protection. The station claims it would be “inappropriate” to ask staff for permission to publish their name and salary.

RTÉ said in response to committee queries about its 50 lowest paid staff at the end of last year some staff were on a salary scale of between €24,000 and €26,000 gross per annum, with the highest points of between €32,000 and €41,000 gross per annum.

These scales relate to some administrative grades and some operational grades.

The station also said that in actual terms those who are among the 50 lowest paid at the station include those who “work limited hours or provide their services on an ad hoc basis”. This includes people covering sick leave or irregular events such as Culture Night, the World Cup or the Olympics.

The document dump is largely made up of historic external audit reports, internal audits, risk assessments and other documents.

RTÉ also confirmed that it gave promotional airtime to commercial flop Toy Show the Musical which had a “notional” value of €1.3m. The station says that the broadcasting code allows it to grant promotional airtime as opposed to commercial airtime to be used to promote its own programmes and products.

RTÉ also confirmed to the committee that as many as 700 workers’ employment arrangements with the station are being investigated by the Department of Social Protection.

The station’s so-called bogus self-employment arrangements – where a worker is classified as self-employed although they have the characteristics of an employee – have been the subject of considerable scrutiny.

It has set aside an undisclosed amount that could be multiples of an earlier €1.2m settlement with Revenue for unpaid PRSI.

“RTÉ is unsure how many investigations are likely to be carried out. In some correspondence the Department of Social Protection (scope section) refers to 356 workers and in another piece of correspondence 700 workers is mentioned,” the station has told the committee.

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