Sunday, March 1, 2009

Kenya's public jobs lose 'for life status'

The job-for-life status of Kenya civil servants will now be a thing of the past, the Minister of State for Public service Dalmas Otieno has said.

Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno has announced new guidelines that will see the over 700,000 government employees lose their jobs for non-performance.

Currently, it is nearly impossible to sack civil servants. Kenya public service procedures provide for the removal of government employees but usually this requires a complicated and drawn out process. Most civil servants therefore end up serving to the retirement age, 55, regardless of their performance.

While launching a survey that sought to explain the impact of remuneration reviews on productivity in the public service, Mr Otieno made it clear that those that do not deliver will leave government employment.

Those affected include around 240,000 teachers and 200,000 civil servants in addition to state corporation employees and the disciplined forces, who will be evaluated by the government's productivity centre to determine their continued stay or exit from their current jobs.

“Retention and attraction in the public service will therefore be based on productivity. To ensure this, the ministry is in the process of reforming the superannuation scheme by making it contributory and thus portable,” said the minister.

“As a result, the public servant need not stay in the service awaiting their pension.”

A superannuation scheme will allow one to be retired with a pension upon being rejected because of non-performance.

The Permanent secretary in the ministry Titus Ndambuki confirmed to Saturday Nation that by August this year non-performing civil servants will be warned through writing and effectively put on notice.

“We have already instructed all the permanent secretaries at this point to warn their employees that non-performance will no longer be tolerated by government and that they expect warning letters come August.”

“If they don’t change and perform better in the following year’s evaluation, they will receive another warning letter after which they are terminated if they continue to perform poorly, he added.

The PS said the government has been piloting the evaluation programme through performance contracting and is refining on the performance indicators before settling on the final evaluation criteria.

Addressing performance contracting in practice, the minister said the government would like to deliver services in the most effective manner, in the right quality, on time and innovatively to achieve the desired and acceptable results.

“It is only then that we will be able to release the desired productivity levels, save on the resources hitherto wasted during production and effectively deliver more services and goods to Kenyans,” said Mr Otieno.

The survey, which was launched to determine whether the civil servants salary increments had an impact on their performance revealed that there was no corresponding improvement in productivity.