24 January 2017

Rwanda: Spotlight Shone on Managers Over Breach of Labour Laws

The Public Service Commission has announced plans to investigate why managers in public service continue to break labour laws, dragging the government to courts which ends up incurring losses in case of unfavourable rulings.

The plan was revealed yesterday by the commission's chairperson, François Habiyakare, while meeting members of the senatorial standing committee on social affairs, who have embarked on analysing the commission's report for the fiscal year 2015-2016.

Habiyakare said that laws governing employees in public service are clear and simple, and suspects that a specific reason might explain why they are often broken.

One of the likely reasons, he said, is lack of serious sanctions for managers who break the laws while managing their staff but he said the planned investigation will get to the bottom of the matter.

Over three fiscal years that were assessed by the commission from 2012 to 2015, the government lost 75 per cent of the lawsuits filed against it by its former employees, incurring a loss of Rwf524 million in compensations.

"It won't surprise us if our findings point to the lack of serious sanctions for those who break the laws as being the reason behind continued failure to respect the laws and guidelines governing public service. Normally, people are punished when they don't do what they are supposed to do but the same isn't happening enough in the case of managers in public service," Habiyakare said.

The probe will be conducted in the next fiscal year, which starts July.

The senators pushed the commission to keep up efforts to enhance fairness and efficiency in public service, with some of them indicating that the level at which the government is losing cases related to ill-treatment of employees isn't acceptable.

Senator Perrine Mukankusi said that the fact that government lost 75 per cent of the lawsuits speaks volumes about the level of injustice in public service.

"It's a big problem because that percentage actually shows us the level of injustice in public service," she said.

Habiyakare said that committing mistakes while managing staff in public service could also be a result of incompetence among managers.

He said ending the culture of impunity and rendering punishments that are commensurate with the breaches committed would help reverse the trend.

"There are a lot of mistakes that are done by many managers and it's about time they are held to account," he said.

The commission's study will be conducted in the fiscal year 2017-2018 and will assess issues of human resource management and administrative system in public service.

Officials expect that eventual findings will help the commission to propose concrete measures to improve the management of public servants and the delivery of public services.

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