Govt releases guidelines for public service restructuring

The Government has issued instructions that will guide the ongoing restructuring in public service.  
Some senior members of the civil service during a training workshop last month. The government has gazetted new guidelines for public service restructuring. (John Mbanda)
Some senior members of the civil service during a training workshop last month. The government has gazetted new guidelines for public service restructuring. (John Mbanda)

The Government has issued instructions that will guide the ongoing restructuring in public service.

The ministerial instructions, gazzetted on the day the restructuring exercise started – on August 1 – provide guidance to individual institutions.

The exercise will be spearheaded by three-member panels in every institution, and in some cases these panels will include heads of institutions, according to the new rules.

The instructions lay down the principles which the panels in charge of implementing the restructuring will follow during the exercise, which will see hundreds of civil servants lose their jobs, demoted, redeployed, or promoted.

The main factor on whether an individual employee should be retained in the same position, moved or retained as staff is their performance over the last two financial years (2012/2013 and 2013/2014).

Those who failed to score 60 per cent during routine performance evaluation over the same period will be laid off and will not receive terminal benefits, according to the new rules.

The ministerial order considers such people as non-performers and should not retain their positions.

Restructuring panels were instructed to evaluate qualification and competences of individual employees vis-à-vis respective job profiles before determining whether the employee in the same position qualifies to do the job or not.

“For a public servant to be placed (they) must have got marks that are equal or superior to 60 per cent in performance evaluation; a public servant with less than 60 per cent of marks in their performance evaluation shall be automatically removed from office based on poor performance and shall not be entitled to termination benefits as provided for by Prime Minister’s Order establishing the procedures of performance appraisal and promotion of public servants,” Article 3 of the ministerial instructions reads in part.

However, some of those who obtained above 60 per cent may also not retain their current jobs, especially where duplication of responsibilities is noticed or when there is a realisation that moving them into other positions will enhance efficiency.

According to the ministerial instructions, some posts within public entities could be scrapped off while new ones may be created.

“Where, as result of restructuring, a public servant’s post has been removed or the incumbent is in redundancy, (they) shall be offered another job position by considering, in the first place, available posts that have the same grade as the one (they were) occupying before the restructuring,” reads the document.

It adds: “Where no job position of the same grade as previous has been found for a public servant, (they) shall be offered another job position falling under (their) previous professional category; where a job position has been upgraded and shifted into another professional category, it shall be filled through open competition.”

In case an employee has worked for less than two years, the restructuring panels will use the feedback from any existing evaluation reports or conduct the evaluation for new employees who are yet to undergo their first appraisal exercise.

Job placements

The new ministerial instructions also indicate that where no job position has been found for a public servant within their respective institutions, it will be reported to the Ministry of Public Service and Labour and the latter will have to find another job post elsewhere.  

The government says for the employees who will not be placed in the restructuring but have requisite qualifications, they will be given priority once recruitment in public service has resumed.

Recruitment in public service had been suspended on June 3, 2014.

The ongoing restructuring will also see some contractual staff within public service lose their jobs once their functions are integrated in the organizational structure, and, therefore, given to permanent employees.

This, according to the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, will help cut public expenditure.

In that case, such contracts will be terminated in accordance with the law, the instructions say.

The new Minister for Public Service and Labour, Judith Uwizeye, told The New Times this week that the restructuring seeks to enhance service delivery, and eliminate duplication of roles.

“We expect to be through with the process by the end of the month but that will depend on the eventualities that may arise during the exercise,” she said.

Asked about how much government expects to save as a result of the restructuring, Uwizeye said this would be ascertained after the process has been concluded. 

“We want to first concentrate on repositioning public services.”

She said the reforms also include redefining job profiles and removing any ambiguities in delegation of power.

The minister said the restructuring will also help enhance accountability in public service.

“Individual public institutions are currently drawing their respective organisational  structures and they are expected to have forwarded them by the end of the week. It’s those very structures that will guide us in the process to fill vacant posts and effect necessary repositioning,” added Uwizeye.

‘Improving efficiency’

Antonia Mutoro, the executive secretary of National Capacity Building Secretariat, welcomed the new instructions as a measure aimed at improving efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.

“A clearly defined organisation structure and staff with the required profiles will ensure improvement in service delivery from the reformed public institutions,” she said.

However, workers unions have urged government to revisit the decision not to offer terminal benefits to workers who are dismissed over underperformance.

Jowe Kabibi Kacyira, the legal officer at Central Trade Union of Workers of Rwanda (Cestra), told The New Times that whereas underperformance is inexcusable, compensation of dismissed workers is protected by the national labour law.

“We want people to work, but we cannot defend those who continue to underperform at the detriment of their targets. However, we also know that termination benefits are protected by Rwanda’s labour law – for example you cannot fire an employee who has worked for ten years without giving him any benefits,” Kacyira said.

“Some employees have debts with banks, some have annual leave days that they did not take which must be compensated once they have been dismissed. This must be looked at again more critically.”

The decision to restructure and reposition staff in public service was informed by the findings from the Public Institutions Performance Analysis and Performance Audit of Institutional Mergers carried out between June 2013 and February 2014.

The studies established that there were cases of duplication of roles and redundancy, which needed to be eliminated.

Currently, there are about 94,000 civil servants.