Wed | Jan 22, 2020

Clarke: Gov’t rooting out public-sector pay inequity

Published:Thursday | December 5, 2019 | 3:53 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
Dr Nigel Clarke (left), minister of finance and the public service, listens pensively to O’Neil Grant (right), president of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, after signing contracts with international consultancy Ernst & Young at the ministry’s Heroes Circle offices on Wednesday. Looking on are Kavan Gayle (second right), president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, and Detective Constable Nigel Murphy of the Police Federation.
Dr Nigel Clarke (left), minister of finance and the public service, listens pensively to O’Neil Grant (right), president of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, after signing contracts with international consultancy Ernst & Young at the ministry’s Heroes Circle offices on Wednesday. Looking on are Kavan Gayle (second right), president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, and Detective Constable Nigel Murphy of the Police Federation.

The Holness administration is moving to root out some of the inherent unfairness in the compensation structure for public-sector employees.

This follows the signing yesterday of two contracts, valued at US$5.4 million and US$1.6 million, respectively, with the international consultancy firm Ernst & Young to review the public-sector compensation framework with a view to streamlining it and develop a proposal for performance pay.

The second contract is for Ernst & Young to guide the introduction of shared corporate services in some areas of government.

The move forms part of the wider Public Sector Transformation Initiative.

Pointing to some of the inequities, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke indicated that public-sector compensation is characterised by more than 325 distinct salary scales across all occupational groups.

“For a country of our size, that’s way too many, and it makes the structure of compensation far too opaque, complicated and complex, and makes it difficult to plan,” Clarke said of the 325 salary scales.

INTERNAL INEQUITIES

Further, he acknowledged that the nearly 200 allowances “speak to internal inequities and a lack of transparency from a fiscal point of view because allowances differ from group to group”.

The finance minister announced that permanent secretaries have already agreed to the introduction of performance pay as part of their compensation package and hailed this as a positive development.

“Being willing to embrace the concept of performance pay definitely means that those are permanent secretaries who have Jamaica’s best interest at heart and are willing to put their compensation on the line for performance,” he said during yesterday’s signing ceremony for the two contracts.

Clarke said that the consultants will be tasked with developing a unified compensation policy and philosophy with one job evaluation structure.

“Right now, there are several government evaluations and structures across the public sector, which means that jobs are evaluated or scored differently and, as a result, we get inconsistencies across the public sector,” he explained.

“One of the primary aims is to achieve what we call internal equity, which is to ensure that relative compensation reflects relative job evaluation score, so there is some internal consistencies to public-sector compensation,” he said.

The contract for the introduction of shared corporate services will enable the implementation of shared resources in seven areas of operations, including human resource management, finance and accounts, procurement, asset management, information and communications technology, internal audit, public relations and communication.

Both projects will commence in January next year. The shared corporate services project will last for 24 months, while the compensation review project will be completed in 18 months.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com