The most daunting announcement every public officer is anticipating is officially released today.
The Solomon Islands government, through the Ministry of Public Service, has announced that due to the risks of COVID-19, it is scaling down its services.
The announcement, which was released in the form of a memorandum, was approved and effected by the cabinet on the 26th of March, 2020.
While the memorandum clearly outlines the entire scale down exercise, section ii would definitely turn a lot of heads.
In summary, section ii states that after 30 days of emergency leave, public officers’ salaries will be halved up until the situation allows them to resume their duties.
When the news about going half-pay was still in its planning stage, the popular Solomon Business Magazine Facebook page was the first local forum to break the news.
Expectedly, that news hit a brick wall of unhappy public servants. Many government workers were not in favor of the move.
A lot of people pointed fingers at the national government for coming up with such a bizarre idea that is going to subject its employees to a lot of challenges.
Some commentators state that the government should emulate the move taken by the Fiji government.
“All the parliamentarians in Fiji are getting a 20% deduction off their salaries. The government is doing this to assist them in the provision of essential services at this trying time. Our government is doing the total opposite! They’re deducting our salaries instead,” one public officer complains.
The Solomon Islands Herald read the memo in its entirety and has discovered that citizens, especially the working class who will be affected, need to reread the memo again so that they can’t be misled by the so many commentaries on this issue on social media.
Today we’re going to share 5 reasons, based on the released memorandum, why we think affected public servants should not be too worried about the scale down exercise:
1. The first 30 days of the emergency leave will be fully paid
According to the released memo, “…public officers serving under non-essential services are hereby authorized to take an emergency paid leave of absence from work effective 31 March 2020” until the current situation normalizes.
So who is going to qualify for this special leave? We cannot confirm that at this stage, but common sense will tell us that medical officers, nurses and those individuals manning the government’s payroll system are some of the many people that will keep the essential services of this country rolling during this critical time. So these people may not be eligible to go on leave.
Simply put, nurses, doctors, police officers, payroll officers plus a bunch of other people may not be affected by this scale down measure.
But to whoever is going to qualify for this special leave, the good news is you will be on full salary during the first month. Of course, after the 30 days, the daunting exercise will be effected-that is 50% of your salary will be cut. But if you’re going back to the village, maybe that 30 days of full payment will allow you to at least settle down wherever you’re going to shelter during the emergency period.
That brings us to our next point.
2. Reinstatement of full salary & repayment of withheld 50% salary
Well, this is perhaps the best reason of the 5 we’re sharing with you today. Okay so according to the released statement, even if one goes on half-pay after the 1 month period, “the other 50% salary withheld during [the]emergency leave will [be] repaid in full” after they’re recalled to normal duties.
So literally, affected public officers won’t be entirely going on half salaries because after everything returns to normal, they will be repaid in full what amount of money has been withheld from them during the leave period. One commentator claims that ” maybe the government is coming up with this exercise to try and set aside money during this trying time to attend to the most essential issues.”
3. Time to be with loved ones
A lot of us may not really have the time to spend with our families. So going on such a break will give us the chance to catch up with family members. Let’s just hope that we’ll get to adapt to whatever environment we’re going to find ourselves in.
4. Travelling allowance of $2,500
Yes, the government through the respective ministries and payroll officers will support those who are eligible to go on the emergency leave. According to the memo, a total of $2,500 will be given to the eligible officers.
5. Non-established officers to be paid in full
The government is very kind enough with the non-established officers this time around. Yes, for such officers, under this exercise, you will remain on full pay, whether you’re going on leave or working.