This piece is with reference to the article published in the Namibian Sun edition of 24 April 2018 based on a government circular dated 29 March 2018 titled Public Service Staff Rule Amendment Notice No. 5 2018, Management of Annual Vacation Leave.
It is imperative to note that there has been a great oversight in the above-mentioned amendment that puts public service employees in a worse position in terms of their conditions of employment than they currently are which goes against the principles and accepted norms of Human Resource Management.
According to Public Service Staff Rule (PSSR) D.I/XI there is provision made within the public service that allows an employee of the state to accumulate vacation leave with a view to using those accumulated days to pursue studies in line with the public service policy on training and human resource development.
PSSR D.I/XI states that, ‘for every day vacation leave you have accrued, you will be granted one day’s special leave with full pay for study purposes’. So, for example, if you have three weeks vacation leave accrued, you may apply for three weeks special leave for study purposes. To take advantage of this type of special leave, you need to enter into a written agreement with your O/M/A/ (Organisation/Ministry/Agency) for the period of special leave you would like to take for study purposes.
It is necessary to understand the background of these staff rules that seek to empower government employees by affording them access and opportunity to strengthen their capacity and skill set in order to play a meaningful role in the country’s development agenda. The Namibia Public Service Human Resource Development Policy Framework affords public sector employees this opportunity for development and self-actualization and the amendment of that benefit goes against this principle.
The government circular notice No. 5 2018 written by Tuyakula Haipinge the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister states that, “accruing vacation leave days is contrary to the letter and spirit of the provisions of the PSSR”. This is a statement I strongly disagree with which I believe is both misleading and devoid of truth. Accruing leave days and using them to study breeds a culture of life-long learning that will benefit the country and its human resources in the short, medium and long term. Countries are developed by their human resources and it is with this in mind that the Human Resource Development Policy Framework I believe was designed.
The new amendments are both worrying and not in good faith as there is no provision made to counter the negative effect it will have on the public service and its employees in particular. Government should pronounce itself on the counter-measures it will implement to ensure that employees of the state are not left in a worse situation than they were due to this amendment.