Kenya: Bill Caps Civil Servants Acting Roles to 6 Months

Civil servants will no longer be allowed to hold office in an acting capacity for more than six months if MPs approve changes to the law.

The Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019 sponsored by Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru seeks to ensure no acting allowances are payable beyond six months.

It also prescribes the penalty in the event that an appointing authority allows a person to act for more than six months.

"Any officer appointed in an acting capacity shall not be entitled to any acting allowances after the expiry of six months," states the bill's memorandum of objects and reasons.

"Failure to comply with this provision will result in the officer not earning any acting allowances," said Mr Gathiru.

The bill, which seeks to end a tradition of keeping civil servants in acting positions for long periods of time, also provides that the mandatory age of retirement is 60 years "without exception". The retirement age is currently spelt out in regulations.

It comes just one week after the Public Service Commission (PSC) announced that fresh university graduates, diploma holders and other professionals getting jobs in ministries will be hired on three-year contracts renewable on "satisfactory performance."

Mr Gathiru said the amendments sought will increase the number of vacancies available to Kenyas.

At the moment, a number of civil servants are allowed to work beyond the age of 60 on account of possessing rare knowledge, skills and competencies.

The lawmaker said the PSC and other appointing authorities should be keen on succession planning and take the necessary steps to ensure that they train others in the organisations to take up these positions.

"It also deletes the provisions allowing the Public Service Commission or any other appointing authority from engaging a person who has attained the age of sixty years," Mr Gathiru said.

The proposed changes come in the wake of radical policy stopping employment of entry-level State workers on permanent and pensionable terms from July.

Only senior civil servants the rank of a director (job group S) and above are currently hired on contractual terms.

PSC chairman Stephen Kirogo said the new policy is aimed at slowing down growth of the public wage bill while enhancing productivity.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) estimates the current public wage bill will hit about Sh790 billion this year from Sh733 billion in the year ended June 2018, Sh664 billion the year before and Sh615 billion at the end of financial year ended June 2016.

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