Lawmakers reject salary increases for their employees

Parliament buildings in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

MPs have rejected a bid by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to increase salaries of their staff, the Nation has learnt.

Sources in the Parliament Liaison Office said the lawmakers turned down the new salary structure released by the PSC for employees.

The Liaison Office is a department established by the PSC to facilitate and oversee operations of constituency offices. 

It facilitates constituency offices with payment of staff salaries, office operating expenses and rent. 

The lawmakers argue that their office is political and they should be free to determine who to hire and on what salary.

The MPs also rejected qualifications set by the PSC on the staff to be employed, saying it is they who know the people to work with.

The commission had insisted that constituency managers must have at least a bachelor’s degree but MPs reduced the qualification to diploma. 

Personal assistants and ward coordinators were also expected to have a bachelor’s degree but MPs said Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) is enough. 

However, they maintained the degree qualification for researchers. 

An MP is expected from the budget provided to hire at least one researcher to help him or her on legislative topics canvassed in the House.

“You cannot tie us down on who to employ. This is a political office,” said a lawmaker who asked not to be named.

According to the PSC structure that was rejected by the MPs, an office assistant and security guard would take home a maximum of Sh87,000 and minimum of Sh35,000 every month.

But MPs insist that the minimum pay should remain at Sh16,000, with the maximum left at their discretion.

Constituency office managers who in the 12th Parliament earned a minimum monthly salary of Sh100,000 were to get up to Sh259,000 with a minimum of Sh115,500.

Even with the minimum monthly pay for managers set at Sh100,000, many MPs in the previous Parliament only parted with Sh70,000. 

Personal assistants of MPs in the 12th Parliament earned a minimum of Sh65,000 a month while an office assistant took home Sh20,000. In the new structure, the PAs were to get a maximum of Sh163,500 and Sh69,000 minimum

A driver earned Sh40,000 per month while an office secretary got Sh30,000. They werewere set for a maximum of Sh129,000 and a minimum of 45,000 respectively.

In the new PSC structure, county, constituency, ward coordinator, field officer, accounts assistant and procurement assistant are to get Sh69,000 to Sh163,500 every month.

The new structure was set by the commission in its resolution paper 1490 on the salary conversion table.

“The constituency office manager shall be the highest paid staff. No worker shall be paid less than Sh35,000 a month,” the guidelines read.

Currently, there is no cap on the salary payable to the people recruited by lawmakers as the commission only sets the minimum payable.

The commission said it came up with the structure because MPs pay their employees differently.

And just like in the 12th Parliament, lawmakers still want to have a free hand in determining the salary of their employees, as long as they stick to the minimum set by the commission.

An MP’s workers includes a constituency office manager, account assistant and procurement clerk.

In addition, the lawmaker can hire a deputy constituency manager, PA, ward coordinator(s), secretary, researcher, office assistant, driver and security guard.

Five-year contracts

“Appointment and terms of service of the constituency office is determined by the member, provided that they comply with the regulations approved by the Parliamentary Service Commission,” the PSC guidelines read.

The appointment is contractual, with the maximum period being five years. 

The lawmaker is at liberty to terminate the service of his or her employee whenever he chooses to.

The commission allocates funds for county/constituency offices every year. It also sets expenditure ceilings per sub vote-head.

The current monthly budget for personal emoluments is Sh811,000, Sh659,000 for consumables and office operations and Sh57,750 for rent allocation of CDF offices for those in Nairobi, Sh44,100 for constituency headquarters and Sh35,000 for other areas.

According to the PSC, an MP is expected to identify a suitable office space for rent in his/her constituency.