NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – More than 90,000 public workers who were seconded to counties can now breathe easy after the Public Service Commission allayed fears that they will be laid off.
Public Service Commission Chairperson Prof Margaret Kobia says it is not the government’s intention to lay off staff adding that various stakeholders were in the process of reviewing the current state of events to ensure everyone was accommodated.
“It is not in the interest of the government to lay off anybody, if some people are thinking that there could be laying off of the 90,000 staff, then I want to allay those fears – we however need a structured way of evaluating the needs of the counties – the skills present and how to utilize them – that is the way forward for the government,” said Kobia.
She pointed out that the capacity assessment (CARPS) program being carried out by the devolution Ministry would be used to inform every county of the skills they need and how to go about hiring so that those who will not fit into the specific structure will either be transferred to other counties or a solution sought.
Kobia noted that the country was facing a myriad of challenges in human resource management brought about by the transition to devolved system of governance where staff from local authorities were absorbed by the counties.
“We have around 60,000 civil servants seconded to counties and 30,000 local government employees. As per the constitution, they are to be deemed seconded to the County governments. Parliament should look into this issue to clear the confusion because some staff report to both governments,” said Kobia.
During a meeting with Parliament’s Administration and National Security and Justice and Legal Affairs Committees to review the Public Service Bill Kobia urged the committees to help the commission review the issue ahead of the expiry of the transition period in July this year.
She further acknowledged the fact that there was no legal framework guiding the hiring of staff by counties which have since resulted in duplication of roles noting that the matter needed urgent redress.
“You cannot hire if there is already a seconded staff in that county, that is why the Council of Governors and the national Government through the summit are consulting to find a solution,” added Kobia.
Security Committee Chairman Asman Kamama said his committee was concerned over the fate of the workers as some counties may chose to declare the seconded workers redundant after the expiry of the Transition period.
“If the counties decide to resend the staff to the national government some may lose their jobs because some of their responsibilities are not done at the National government; for instance what would a veterinary officer or an extension service officer do?” posed Kamama.
The Tiaty MP said his committee would ensure the staff were absorbed in other sectors within the public service and if they lost their jobs, they were sufficiently remunerated.
“When you are talking of almost 100,000 Kenyans being declared redundant, you are talking about a challenge of monumental proportion. We will ensure their rights are protected, and if they are given the golden handshake or early retirement, they should be given a decent package,” said Kamama.
Kobia also expressed her concerns over the fact that Counties were entrenching ethnicity by only hiring individuals from local ethnic tribes yet the law required that 30 percent of workers be from different regions. She urged the county public service Boards to ensure they complied with the law.
The Public Service Bill intends to harmonise the operations of both the civil servants in national and county governments and how the Public service commission relates with the Public Service Boards in the counties.
It will regulate issues of employment, responsibilities of public servants, salaries and also current issue of seconded staff.
The Bill generally fine-tunes the Public Service Act which has been operational since post independence and is set to be presented to cabinet for review before the end of the month.