SRC puts governors on notice over health workers allowances

Saturday, April 11th, 2020 15:01 |
SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich PHOTO/FILE

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has warned county governments against introducing additional special allowances to healthcare workers without seeking proper advisory from the commission.

In a letter to the Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, SRC Chairperson Lyn Mengich has advised against counties awarding special allowances without seeking proper advice from the commission.

According to Ms Mengich, award and payment of such allowances without advisory of the commission are not only unlawful, but is also likely to cause inequality in remuneration across the health sector in the counties.

“Whereas the commission is cognizant of the challenges faced by health professionals in the fight against Covid-19, it is concerned that due process has to be followed in the introduction of any new allowances by way of seeking advisory from the commission as required by law,” she wrote.

The Counties of Machakos and Mandera has introduced a special duty allowance for doctors and nurses dealing with screening of Covid-19 virus.

Whereas, Governor Ali Roba said his administration will pay a motivational allowance to the concerned health workers.

Last week, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua announced a special allowance of between Sh5, 000 and Sh20, 000 for medical staff in addition to their salaries.

“In recognition of the sacrifice our Machakos County health workers are making at this time of great stress and extra duties due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Machakos Government has decided to pay them an extra allowance of Sh20,000, 10,000 and 5,000 per month based on their duties,” the Governor noted.

However, SRC which sets out salaries and allowances for state officers and public offers, has faulted the counties saying they did not consult the commission before making their decision.

“Consequently, leading to instability in the sector at this critical moment when all counties require adequate health personnel,” Ms. Mengich held
As county governments put in measures to prevent the spread of the disease, the commission said, it is important to recognize that the national government is currently raising funds to facilitate the fight against the pandemic.

In light of the scarce resources, SRC boss held, it is prudent to use the available resources in the protection of health workers by way of providing the much needed Personal protections Equipments (PPEs)

“The commission, therefore, advises the county governments to follow due process in seeking its advice on any such award and payment of any allowance thereof,” she wrote.
But in a quick rejoinder, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo has termed SRC’s letter to the CoG as misplaced and unfortunate claiming the commission is losing it.

According to Otiende, the state agency is becoming insensitive to some of the most critical workers in the country.

“Apart from SRC’s mandate on salaries being restricted to state officers and merely advisory on public officers, periodic bonuses and motivations cannot be unlawful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Clinical officers have also accused the commission of being insensitive to health workers during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on Saturday, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers said the SRC has objected to the award of risk and special allowances to health workers, especially in Machakos County.

“We find this action insensitive, hypocritical and an affront against the sacrifices of many health workers who have dedicated themselves under extremely risky conditions and with inadequate protection to safeguard the lives of Kenyans,” the Union Chairman Peterson Wachira said.

According to Wachira, it is baffling that the SRC is quick to object to such awards yet it has always remained mute when health workers, especially those on county and hospital contracts, are underpaid.

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