A parliamentary report offers a glimpse into professions with guaranteed jobs in the public sector as employees with these “rare skills” are retained in service past their retirement age.
Some of the fields where individuals are considered having rare or specific skills include space science, Blue Economy (marine engineers and coxswains), aviation (pilots and aircraft accident investigators) as well as artists, according to the report that also notes over 400 retirees are holding plum State jobs.
“The regulation above serves to address special circumstances that may be considered in exceptional cases. Some of these cases include where capacity in the public service is lacking or specific skills are required and not readily available,” says the report that then lists some of the fields.
A total of 405 officers in ministries and state departments are still occupying plum state jobs despite attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 years, according to the report by the National Assembly committee on Labour.
The report tabled in parliament indicates that as at June, 2023, there were 75,031 employees in the civil service, out of which 405 have attained retirement but have not been let go as stipulated in law.
Persons with disabilities form the bulk of those who have attained 60 years as the number stands at 286, this is followed by 64 officers who are listed to be on local contracts. It is, however, important to note that the retirement age for persons with disability is 65 years.
Another 20 officers above the retirement age are listed as advisors and also still draw a salary from the public coffers. The report has not listed the person they are advising, ministry or department.
Regulations 27 of the Public Service Commission give the commission responsibility for appointment of advisors to the President, deputy president and Cabinet Secretaries. The advisors are identified and recommended by the specified State Officer.
There are also 31 ambassadors and High commissioners who are still maintained by the government despite attaining the retirement age.
However, the PSC told the committee that there are six fields with individuals who possess rare skills hence such persons are retained beyond the 60 years retirement age.
The areas with persons of rare skills include space science, blue economy-these include marine engineers and coxswains, pilots, aircraft accident investigators, artists and officers with extensive experience.
The retention of officers who have attained the retirement age in the service points out the financial dilemma the government is currently struggling with as it seeks to settle retirees pension upon exiting the service.
The National Treasury paid out Sh69.22 billion in pension and gratuity in the six months to December 2021.
Latest data from Treasury indicates that a total of Sh436.9 billion was paid to pensioners between the financial years 2019/2020-2023 and 2024.
In 2009, the government changed the retirement age from 55 to 60 years as a way of taming the high cost of pension paid to the high number of those exiting the public service.
According to the PSC annual report for the Financial Year 2021/2022, a total of, 3,958 officers exited the service in 47 Ministries Departments and Agencies
A 2016 audit report by the PSC showed that 35 percent of the employees in national government were aged between 51 and 60 years while
The retention of those above 60 years comes at a time when the National Assembly is preparing to consider the Geriatric Bill, 2021, sponsored by Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba which seeks to hire Civil servants who have attained the retirement age in critical areas such as health, security and education to work on a post-retirement employment programme.
Although the Labour committee in its consideration of the Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to amend the current Act by prescribing that no officer should be in any acting capacity beyond six months, it does not contain amendments on the retirement age. During consideration of the Bill at the committee level, a section of the members said they will introduce the amendments as individuals during the debate of the Bill
The committee vice chairperson Fabian Muli (Kangundo) said if the committee is to serve the interest of the youth, then it should propose further amendments to the Bill to reduce the retirement age from 60 to 55 years, a move that could further compound the pension headache to the government.
“We need to think further and reduce the age to 55 to make the youth of this country proud,” Mr Muli said.
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He added that should the committee fail to factor in the age reduction amendment, then he will, as a member, propose the change.
“It is something that I will personally do if the committee fails to recommend the amendments,” Mr Muli said.
Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga said the committee needs to amend the necessary legal provisions that put the age at 60 and amend them.
“We need to get to know how the 60 years retirement age was arrived at, so that we amend those provisions,” Mr Chonga said.
LungaLunga MP Mangale Munga while supporting the reduction of retirement age aid, said there is a need to cater for the growth of young people.
The Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by Embakasi Central MP Benjamin says a six months period when an officer is in acting capacity is enough for any entity to recruit a suitable candidate for the position.
The committee has, however, rejected the proposal, saying it would amount to unfair labour practices and goes against the Constitution.
“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.
The Bill proposes that a person may be appointed in acting capacity for a period of at least 30 days but not exceeding a period of six months.
The Bill states that a public officer will only be engaged on contract beyond the retirement age if the individual possesses rare knowledge, skills and competencies for the time being required in the services.