Civil servants in a spin after mandatory retirement rule

Monday, November 23rd, 2020 12:00 |
PSC chief executive Simon Rotich. Photo/PD/FILE

More than 30,000 public officers in national and county governments have been thrown into a spin following a new directive that all civil servants who have attained the mandatory retirement age of 60 years must go home by January 2021.

Effective early next year, the government will no longer approve any extension of service for officers retiring from Public Service upon attainment of the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.

Should this order be effected, it could see a number of senior government officials, police officers, prison warders, parastatal bosses and county government top cadres being shown the door by January.

Sources told People Daily that among those likely to be forced out are several Administrative Secretaries and directors, one Deputy Inspector General of Police, five Senior Assistant Inspectors General of Police (SAIG), three Assistant Commissioners General of Prisons and senior officers at the National Registration Bureau.

Proactive succession 

Consequently, all ministries, departments and agencies have been asked to put in place “proactive succession” measures for continuity of service delivery upon retirement of the affected officers.

“Accordingly, it has been decided, that with effect from January 1, the commission shall not approve any extension of service for officers retiring from the Public Service upon attainment of mandatory retirement age of 60 years and 65 years for persons with disability,” Public Service Commission chairman Stephen Kirogo told the officers in a circular dated November 19.

The retirement age for academic staff in public universities and research scientists, will  however, be pegged on respective legislation and guidelines.

It is estimated that about 30,000 people retire from ministries, state departments, corporations and agencies every year out of a total of about 500,000 civil service workforce.

Kirogo said the decision had been necessitated by the need for public officers to prepare for their retirement in advance.

He says many civil servants have developed a tendency to seek extension of their contracts upon attainment of their mandatory retirement age, a trend that will come to an end by January.

“The law requiring that all public officers exit the service upon attainment of the mandatory age notwithstanding, the commission has continued to receive numerous requests for extension of service for various reasons,” he said.

Sources said the commission will no longer extend the services of individuals with rare professions as has been the case in the past.

Previously, the government has been forced to retain some staff beyond retirement age because of their unique expertise and political connections.

Ironically, the directive is silent on chairpersons of parastatals, who are mostly in their late 60s and 70s and whose appointments have left a bitter taste in the mouths of Kenyans.

The exercise is also expected to target obsolete cadres in various ministries, departments and state corporations who will be weeded out, according to sources.

Some government departments and state corporations are said to be staffed with officers whose qualifications are of little value to the entities. 

“Of what value is, for example an agricultural officer or veterinary officer to the ministry of Social Protection or a trained teacher to the ministry of Water?

We also have some ministries with three vehicles, yet they have employed 20 drivers. All these are obsolete cadres,” said a well-placed source.

Directive clarified

The government pushed the retirement age of public officers from 55 to 60 years on March 20, 2009 in a bid to cushion the public service from loss of employees with critical skills, while they are still productive.

This was particularly for employees in professional and technical areas with hands-on experience, where the government had invested considerable resources in training and capacity building.

Kirogo says retirement at 55 years tended to create succession gaps in key areas, necessitating several requests for extension beyond retirement age or re-engagement on contract.

Contacted for comment, PSC chief executive Simon Rotich, while insisting that only Kirogo was best placed to give further information as the commission’s spokesperson, clarified that the directive is meant to create opportunities for the millions of unemployed youth and fresh graduates who have remained in the cold at the expense of “some old guards hanging on to their positions”.

“We are not only pushing out those who have attained retirement age, but we are also reviewing structure and staff establishment for ministries, departments and agencies to ensure optimal staffing levels,” Rotich told People Daily by telephone.

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