Teachers on Acting Capacity to Get Allowances After Rejection of Bill Denying Them Allowances
Teachers and civil servants acting as administrators will now start to get allowances for the period they are acting.
In the past teachers have been acting as school administrators (Senior Teachers, Senior Masters, Deputy Headteachers, Deputy Principals, Headteachers, Senior Headteachers, Principals, Senior Principals) for many years without being confirmed to the new position and without any remuneration.
However its now a big reprieve for those who have acted for more than six months after MPs rejected a Bill denying them allowances, terming such a proposal as unfair labour practices and discrimination.
The National Assembly Labour Committee in a report on the Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 2023 in rejecting the proposal said the move would be against the Constitution on the Employment Act.
“The enactment of this provision would result in unfair labour practices contrary to article 27 of the Constitution on the freedom from discrimination and right to fair labour practices,” reads the report.
The committee pointed out that section 5 of the Employment Act 2007 requires an employer to pay their employees equal remuneration for work of equal value.
The committee instead recommended that the longest an officer can serve in an acting capacity is 12 months before the position is declared vacant and competitively filled.
Therefore,anybody working beyond the perlod will not be entitled to an acting allowance.
The Bill Embakasi Central MP Benjamin sponsored seeks to amend section 34 of the Act to provide for non-payment of acting allowance beyond six months,saying the period when an officer is in acting capacity is enough for any entity to recruit a suitable candidate for the postion.
“The period of six months prescribed should provide adequate time for the organisation to recruit and substantively fill the position.Failure to comply with this provision will result in the officer not earning anyacting allowances,”reads the Bill.
The Bill proposes that a person may be appointed in acting capacity for a period of at least 30 days but not exceeding a period of six months.
The MP argued that since retirement of all teachers and civil servants are known by the employers, the concerned entity should ensure that there are officers with similar skills to a certain one that can take over in case one retires instead of making one to service in acting capacity for more than six months.
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However, the Public Service Commission (PSC) in their submission to the committee over the proposal opposed the amendment pointing out that not all positions officers are appointed to act are available for filling.
“There are circumstances where substantive holders are lawfully authorised to be away for a period exceeding six months and therefore the post cannot be filled,” the commission told MPS.
Such circumstances according to the commission include officers on secondment, leave of absence granted to a spouse of Foreign Service officer who has been posted outside the country and staff of universities who normally take sabbatical leave for studies.
Various universities prescribe different periods for sabbatical leave. Some have nine months, some have one year. It will not be fair to have an officer perform duties in the higher office and not be compensated,” the commission told MPS.
The commission told MPs that the primary objective for appointing an officer in acting capacity is not necessarily to earn an allowance but to ensure continuity of service delivery as the absence of the substantive office should not disrupt public service delivery.
Section 37 of the Employment Act, No.11 of 2007 recognise the concept of “Appointment of an Employee in an Acting Capacity”.
Although section 34  of the Public Service Commission Act,No. 10 of 2017 also stipulates that public officers can only serve in acting capacity for a period of one month, and up to a maximum period of six months, most officers especially in parastatals end up serving in acting capacity even for three years.