Work is to continue on the public- sector compensation restructuring process during the first quarter of fiscal year 2022/23, which begins on April 1.
The exercise, being spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, is intended to overhaul the system of salaries and emoluments in the public service to make it more equitable.
The compensation structure currently comprises 325 salary scales and 185 allowances.
Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says the initial quarter of fiscal year 2022/23, between April and June, will be used to continue engaging with unions and bargaining units representing the island’s over 100,000 public-sector employees, to provide more information and “fine-tune” the system.
“We then propose that early in the second quarter of [2022/23, between July and September], the implementation will begin; but it will be retroactive to April 1,” he indicated during his presentation to open the 2022/23 Budget Debate, 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 advised that $17 billion of this sum relates to certain categories of allowances “that up until the [2021/22] fiscal year [had] been classified in programmes and not wages”.
He assured, however, that every public-sector employee “will know [beforehand] what your salary will be [in 2022/23], what it will be next year [2023/24], and what it will be in the third year [2024/25] when we have completed the implementation”.
The Minister added that the new system will be characterised 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 maintained that no public-sector employee’s net pay will be lower consequent on the new system, but higher.
“We are abandoning the existing cumbersome, complex, unworkable, and unsustainable compensation system and implementing a new [one] that incorporates the principles [of transparency and clarity],” he added.
The restructuring exercise was originally scheduled to commence at the start of fiscal year 2021/22.
However, it was deferred by 12 months due to the adverse economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that significantly reduced revenue inflows, placing a strain on government resources.
The decision followed consultations with the various unions and bargaining units.
Those talks also led to the brokering of a new 12-month “holding” agreement offering a four per cent salary increase for April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, which was financed from available resources.
Several leaders and representatives of unions and bargaining units indicated that while more substantive provisions were anticipated under the new agreement, they understood the Government’s resource constraints and committed to fully supporting the compensation restructuring process.
Dr. Clarke maintained that the Administration is keen on overhauling 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 from providing quality services to the people of Jamaica if we have a public-sector compensation system that is not geared towards the retention of talent. So, we are keenly interested,” Dr. Clarke emphasised, while thanking the unions and bargaining units for their support.