Civil servants stand to lose billions of shillings after the Salaries and Remuneration Commission(SRC) advised the elimination of four allowances.
The commission has recommended the abolishment of retreat allowance, sitting allowance for institutional internal committee members, task force allowance, and non-practice allowance saying they are tantamount to double payment.
The SRC verdict comes five months after the commission chairperson Lyn Mengich said a review of the allowances policy would be ready by year-end, paving way for trimming public workers’ juicy allowances and saving up to about Sh100 billion in taxpayer funds annually.
Presently, there are over 247 remunerative and facilitative allowances payable within the public service, up from 31 in 1999, straining the national bill through double payments. Besides trimming allowances, the SRC targets to cap allowances at a maximum of 40 percent of a public worker’s gross pay.
Following the review, the SRC has now recommended scrapping the four allowances even as it invited public views on the suggestions.
Retreat allowance is currently paid to public officers participating in special assignments meant to review, develop and produce policy documents away from their work station.
The SRC, however, argues that the review, development, and production of policy documents is a job responsibility that is factored in determining the relative worth of a job during a job evaluation, hence is catered for by salaries paid to civil servants.
“Payment of the allowance in addition to the basic salary, therefore, amounts to double compensation. Consequently, SRC advises that the allowance be abolished and ceases to be payable,” the commission said in a circular.
The SRC also targets to scrap sitting allowance for members of institutional internal committees which are constituted to assist the execution of the mandate of the institutions.
“Payment of the allowance to institutional internal committee members, in addition to the basic salary, amounts to double compensation as they are constituted to execute the mandate of the institution. Consequently, SRC advises that the allowance be abolished and ceases to be payable,” the commission said.
The SRC further proposes the abolishment of internal task force allowances terming them a form of double pay because the members are already compensated to execute the functions of their employer institutions.
“Consequently, SRC advises that the allowance ceases to be payable to internal institutional taskforce members. Accounting officers shall seek the advice of SRC on the payment of taskforce allowance other than to be abolished,” it said.
“Further SRC provides guidance as follows: accounting officers will approve payment of taskforce allowance on the successful completion of the task within the budgetary provisions and advise by SRC,” it added, pointing out that accounting officers shall provide information such as proof of appointment, timelines and output and confirmation of budgetary provision to enable the commission to provide advice on payment of the allowances.
“A public officer shall not be paid for more than one task force for the same period of time; A taskforce allowance shall be payable to a public officer for a maximum period of 15 days in a month. The number of paid days in a task force takes cognizance of compensation paid to public officers in their regular jobs during the period of the task force,” the SRC said.
“Where a public officer is involved in a task force on a full-time basis for more than one month, the officer will be required to opt for either the taskforce allowance or the monthly salary for the substantive post,” it added.
The non-practice allowance, which was intended to facilitate the attraction and retention of specific scarce, rare, and critical professional skills in public service, is also set for a shake-up.
The commission said while the allowance served its purpose when it was first introduced, the situation has changed hence the need to scrap it.
“Over the years, the capacity for professional skills in the public service has progressively grown to fill the gap for which the non-practice allowance was payable. It is noted that when a professional chooses to accept a career in the public service, then it implies that the choice presents a better prospect for the affected officer than elsewhere in the economy” it argued.
“Consequently, SRC advises that: non-practice allowance be abolished and ceases to be payable; where payment of the allowance is contractual, the payment will continue as a benefit to self. SRC will provide guidance on implementation on a case by case basis; and where payment of the allowance is negotiated under a CBA (collective bargain agreement), the allowance be retained until the lapse of the existing CBA,” SRC said.