Concern over wait for appointments

Following the mass appointment of temporarily employed or acting public officers four years ago, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is concerned that the long wait for appointments is again becoming a problem.

This concern was raised by deputy general secretary of the NUPW, Wayne Walrond who lamented that people acting in positions were once again doing so over several years. 

In 2020 Government determined that public officers who were temporarily employed or acting in a position in the Public Service for three years or more before October 1, 2020, must be appointed to said post. 

However, Walrond argues that it should not take another Cabinet decision on mass appointments, noting that the Public service has the means to eradicate these lengthy wait periods for appointments. 

 Stressing that this issue was high on the union’s agenda, Walrond said: “You should not have to wait for a Cabinet decision to do mass appointments. The Public Service Act says that a post should not be vacant for more than a year. A year is more than enough time to decide on whether to put an officer in a post. The practice of having people acting in post for three, four and five years is not correct.”

 The NUPW deputy general secretary noted that temporary or acting officers were facing several challenges, especially as it related to the timely receipt of their salaries. He called for an end to the practice of those officer’s salaries being contingent on performance appraisals. 

“A person’s salary should not be held up because of performance reports. We have had instances where there were delays in certain departments for performance reports and as a result pay was withheld for that public officer. Legally once a person has done the work they should be paid. It does not matter whether the performance was at the acceptable level or not. You must pay the public officer for work that is done,” Walrond said.

He said temporary officers were also concerned about their salaries being adjusted without consultation, especially in cases where their salaries were overdrawn. He contended that for those deductions to be made in one fell swoop was too much to bear.

“The other issue that we are facing is one where monies are deducted from public officers’ salaries without consultation because they were overdrawn. The heads of department and the Public Service Commission should consult with officers before doing this. This is especially a problem with temporary workers, who are sometimes paid in error beyond their allotted 14 sick days,” Walrond said.

 He added: “Even though there is a Financial Rules and Audit Act that provides a schedule for how to do it, you should still consult with the worker and make arrangements for the funds to be repaid. Allowances are made for them to repay by giving up vacation days or through a monthly deduction until it is cleared. On several occasions officers went to the bank and realised that deductions were made from their salaries without consultation. This cannot be allowed to continue.” (CLM)

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