Govt. vows to handle surplus workforce in public sector without layoffs

By Sanath Nanayakkare

The Cabinet of Ministers has given the mandate to a committee to find the tricky balance between overstaffing and understaffing in the public service, and execute redeployments for optimum workforce productivity in state institutions, according to acting Cabinet Spokesman Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana.

“The Cabinet approved the redeployment of employees and effectively handle surplus workforce in public institutions, but didn’t discuss layoffs in whatsoever way”, he emphasised during the Cabinet decisions press briefing held on Tuesday.

According to the minister, the Cabinet has decided on the redeployment of state sector surplus staff in public institutions where vacant positions remain to be filled.

“However, this will be done after an evaluation of the number of employees in public institution and ascertaining which institution are overstaffed and which are understaffed, he said.

“Considering the current economic situation, the government has decided to temporarily suspend recruitment for public service. As a whole, there is a surplus of employees in the public service as a result of direct recruitment of graduates and other categories of employees into the public service from time to time under approved recruitment procedures and policy decisions of previous governments. And now, appropriate measures need to be taken to tackle this issue which has arisen in the public service due to different methods of recruitment,” he pointed out.

“Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal presented by the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Council and Local Government to appoint a committee of officers headed by the Secretary to the Prime Minister to review the above situation and make suitable recommendations to identify the priorities in essential recruitments and to recommend timelines for redeployment of employees while ensuring the efficient and effective continuation of public service,” he said

On June 13, the government approved five years of no-pay leave for public sector workers to go abroad or work with no reduction in their seniority or pension rights. An official of the Ministry of Public Administration told the media yesterday that the government circular which provides for five-year no pay leave for public servants would not apply for categories such as school teachers, health sector employees and technical services, and said that they are in the process of working out this circular.

Meanwhile, a circular was issued yesterday by the Secretary to the Ministry of Public administration for implementation of the 2022 Interim Budget proposal for retirement of government employees by 60 years of age.Delivering the interim budget speech in parliament on August 30, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the number of government employees should be rationalized as part of efficient expenditure management.

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