Sunday, August 7, 2022

Govt faces early exit brain drain

The government enclave is reported to be snowed under a mountain of early retirement application papers turned in by experienced senior civil servants who are opting for early exit currently partially under implementation.

This has sparked fears that the amount of experience and expertise that is choosing to walk out the door through the early exit policy may have a negative impact on the civil service productivity, which is already a lightning rod of controversy.

The Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Carter Morupisi, has issued a savingram to government department heads asking them to notify public servants how the government Exit policy works with a guide as to how employees will be paid terminal benefits when they leave the civil service voluntarily or involuntarily.

There were no immediate official numbers of how many public servants had been given involuntary exit packages or how many had applied for voluntary exit. The Water Sector reforms at both local and central government have forced the government to begin implementing the policy.

“My understanding of the signed agreement between the employer and the unions of 2008 was that it was supposed to address the intentions of government. We expect government to engage us [unions].The policy has been implemented partially,” said unionist, Andrew Motsamai.

Government is understood to have stuck out its finger at proposals from the public sector union for a phased retirement strategy to manage knowledge drain. A tremendous amount of subject matter expertise and institutional knowledge reside within the senior civil service population.

Government, however, does not seem to have HR planning processes that will look at organization structures and talent to make sure the civil service is well positioned to execute its business strategy. Indications are that there are no strategies to leverage civil service processes around succession planning, knowledge transfer and mentoring to ensure the sharing and capturing information before senior employees retire.

“We are going to have a problem with many public servants opting to leave voluntarily in large numbers. When we negotiated with the employer in 2000, we made a proposal that the government should have annual budgets for the Voluntary Exit Policy based on the number of positions they want to down scale. The government did not somehow take us seriously,” unionist Johnson Motshwarakgole of the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions told The Telegraph.

The President of the Botswana Sector for Educators (BOSETU), Shandukani Hlabano, said there are going to be instances where public servants whose skills are regarded as scarce may be tempted to apply for voluntary exit.

“The employer in that case has a right to say no we cannot afford to lose you. It is standard practice,” said Hlabano.

The Early Exit Policy should have become effective and applicable on 1 April 2009 when the government wanted to embark on a programme of staff reduction arising from organisational changes.
The Early Exit Policy, which was the result of a Presidential Directive Cab 40/2008, which itself was a reaction to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that had urged the government to cut its public service wage bill. The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, announced this year the government would slash the public service workforce by five percent annually.

The government has said that the Early Exit Policy would apply when there is a total abolition of office for employees of a particular category, occupation or level.

The government is paying public servants who leave service voluntarily better severance pay than when they would if they were to be retrenched. There are fears the government is set to lose key public servants who are badly needed in the civil service.

Public Servants are paid 45 working days for each year worked if they exit the civil service voluntarily. They are paid 40 working days for each year worked if they wait to be retrenched from the civil service.

A public servant who has less than five years of service is paid two months basic salary. One with a minimum of five years of service but less than ten years gets three months basic salary according to the savingram. Public servants who have ten years of service and above get four months basic salary. The above apply for those who leave voluntarily.

Public servants who have worked in the civil service for the same period as indicated above but wait to be retrenched are paid one month salary, two months’ salary and three months basic salary in that order.

The Early Exit package is paid together with accrued leave and pension or gratuity in line with the provisions of the Pensions Act and Regulations.

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