Kenya: PSC Pre-Empts Bill Stopping Extension of Retirees' Contracts

22 November 2020

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has pre-empted a Bill at the National Assembly after lawmakers said they would not approve the extension of service for retiring civil servants.

Parliament is debating the Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, whose objective is make those who attain the age of 60 to go home.

In a circular to authorised officers in the civil service, PSC chairman Stephen Kirogo said the commission has resolved not to approve any extension of service for officers who attain the mandatory retirement age from January 1, 2021.

Via contract

"Ministries, departments and State agencies are required to ensure proactive succession planning for continuity in public service upon retirement of officers," Mr Kirogo says in the November 19 circular.

The law says a public officer should leave service from the date of attaining the mandatory retirement age.

While the same law says the commission shall not extend the service of such officers, Mr Kirogo said he regrets that the PSC continues to receive extension requests.

Through regulations developed by the commission, public officers retire on hitting 60 years. The age used to be 55.

The disabled are to exit the service at 65 while retirement for public university academic staff and researchers is guided by relevant legislation and guidelines.

The bill, which is sponsored by Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Mwangi, seeks to delete a section in the law, which provides for exceptional circumstances under which the commission or any other appointing authority can engage an officer upon retirement on the basis of possessing rare skills and competence or wilfully via a contract.

Moving the bill in September, Mr Mwangi said the idea was built on a case reference where the High Court suspended the circular on the removal of the age limit of heads of parastatals that had been issued by Public Service boss Joseph Kinyua.

Term limits

Through the circular Term of Service for State Corporation Chief Executive Officers, Mr Kinyua instructed boards of management and parastatals on the decision to remove the term limits of heads or chiefs of State agencies.

"With this circular in mind, a corporation head can be reappointed as many times as the appointing authority deems it fit," he said.

He added that the possibility of working beyond the mandatory retirement age of 60 is eminent, noting that such positions attract relatively old officers by virtue of qualification and experience, which are highly sought after.

Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange supported the amendment, describing it as timely "since it will increase job opportunities for the youth".

"This will also task the commission and other appointing authorities to come up with succession plans for jobs that require rare technical skills," he told the House during the debate on the amendment.

Mr Koinange added that the Executive has the tendency of extending the tenure of retired people on account of possession of rare knowledge.

Accumulate capital

"With regard to constitutional commissions, many retirees who are well beyond 70 are recycled into the commission. Such positions can be filled by able persons who are less than 60 years old and who have the requisite knowledge," Mr Koinange told the House.

While supporting the bill, Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe argued that the principle of one working up to the time he hits 60 is not helpful.

"The civil service should allow young people to join the service and accumulate capital for business when they hit 40 or 50 years," Mr Wangwe said.

"It is therefore important for those in the civil service to provide an avenue for the youth to join the job market."

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