Bill: No allowances for civil servants holding office in acting capacity beyond six months

Members of Parliament

Civil servants will not earn allowances beyond six months while serving in any acting capacity if Members of Parliament approve a Bill currently before the House.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Civil servants will not earn allowances beyond six months while serving in any acting capacity if Members of Parliament approve a Bill currently before the House.

The Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeks to amend the law by prescribing that no officer should serve in an acting capacity in any post beyond six months.

Sponsored by Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru, the proposed legislation seeks to discourage having a position held in acting position indefinitely, as a six-month period is enough for any entity to recruit a substantive holder.

“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 any acting allowances,” reads the Bill.

It proposes that a person may be appointed in an acting capacity for at least 30 days but not exceeding six months.

According to the proposed law, a person will only be appointed to hold a public office in an acting capacity after meeting all qualifications.

“An acting appointment shall be in favour of a public officer who is duly qualified and competent to perform the duty and not undermine the expeditious appointment or deployment of a competent person to the public office concerned,” reads the Bill

If one is appointed in an acting capacity without the requisite qualifications, such appointment will be revoked by the Public Service Commission immediately.

“The commission shall, whenever it comes to its attention that an authorised officer has purportedly made an acting appointment or assignment in contravention of the provisions of this section, take corrective action.”

Section 37 of the Employment Act, 2007, recognises the concept of “appointment of an employee in an acting capacity.”

Although Section 34 (3) of the Public Service Commission Act, 2017, also stipulates that public officers can only serve in an acting capacity for one to six months, most officers, especially in parastatals, end up acting for even three years.

Contract extension

The Bill also prohibits contract extensions for officials who attain the mandatory retirement age of 60, arguing the practice deprives younger people of jobs. “The commission, or other appointing authority, shall not extend the service of such retired public officers beyond the retirement age.”

It states that a public officer will only be engaged on a contract beyond the retirement age if he/she possesses rare knowledge, skills and competencies required at the time, and must be willing to be engaged in an acting capacity with the strict observation that age will not affect his/her performance during the period.

Last year, Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba, then Kiambu woman representative, sponsored the Geriatric Bill, 2021, which sought to hire retirees in critical areas such as health, security and education to work on a post-retirement employment programme.

The Bill seeks to pave the way for the hiring of retirees on scaled hours to work in any other area as may be determined by the Public Service Cabinet Secretary. It is still in the first legislative stage in the National Assembly.

In 2009, the government changed the retirement age from 55 to 60 as a way of taming the high cost of pensions paid to the high number of those exiting the public service. The Treasury paid out Sh69.22 billion in pension and gratuity in the six months to December 2021.