Friday, May 20 2022

Work is due to continue on the public sector pay restructuring process in the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, which begins on April 1.

The exercise, led by the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Service, aims to overhaul the system of salaries and emoluments in the civil service to make it fairer.

The compensation structure currently includes 325 salary scales and 185 allowances.

Minister of Portfolio, Dr. Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, between April and June, will be used to continue to engage with unions and bargaining units representing the island’s more than 100,000 public sector employees, to provide more information and “tune” the system.

“We then propose that at the beginning of the second quarter of [2022/23, between July and September], implementation will begin; but it will be retroactive to April 1,” he said during his presentation to open the debate on the 2022/23 budget in the House of Representatives on March 8.

The restructuring exercise will cost the government more than $100 billion to undertake over the next three years.

Dr. Clarke indicated that $17 billion of this sum relates to certain categories of allowances “which until the [2021/22] fiscal year [had] classified in the programs and not in the salaries”.

Minister of Finance and Public Service, Dr. Hon. Nigel Clarke (centre), with (left to right) Minister of State, Hon. Marsha Smith and Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) President Winston Smith sign the Memorandum of Understanding for teachers’ salary increases at the ministry in Kingston.

However, he assured that every employee in the public sector “will know [beforehand] what will your salary be [in 2022/23]what will it be next year [2023/24]and what will it be the third year [2024/25] when we have completed the implementation”.

The Minister added that the new system will be characterized by simplicity, better efficiency and greater transparency “for the individual and for the country and ultimately will be a contributing factor [for] better quality service [delivery].”

Dr Clarke argued that no public sector employee will receive less net pay as a result of the new system, but more.

“We are abandoning the existing cumbersome, complex, impractical and unsustainable compensation system and implementing a new [one] which incorporates the principles [of transparency and clarity],” he added.

The restructuring exercise was originally scheduled to start at the start of the 2021/22 financial year.

However, it has been postponed for 12 months due to the negative economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has significantly reduced revenue inflows, straining government resources.

The decision follows consultations with the various unions and bargaining units.

These talks also led to the negotiation of a new 12-month “holding” agreement offering a 4% salary increase from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, which was funded from available resources.

Several union and bargaining unit leaders and representatives indicated that while more substantive provisions were in the new agreement, they understood the government’s resource constraints and pledged to fully support the compensation restructuring process. .

Dr. Clarke argued that the administration is keen to overhaul the public sector compensation structure.

He said it was in the government’s interest, as it is for public sector employees, to conduct the exercise.

“The government is constrained to provide quality services to the Jamaican people if we have a public sector compensation system that is not focused on talent retention. So we’re very interested,” said Dr. Clarke, while thanking unions and bargaining units for their support.

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