Lebanon Businessnews News

Civil service reform on track
More working hours and less overtime
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A plan to reform civil service was recently submitted by the Cabinet in line with endorsing public sector employees’ new salary scale increase. The Ministry of State for Administrative Reform is currently preparing draft laws for the approved reforms.

“The adopted reforms, are still vague, as is the salary scale,” according to Fouad Zmokhol, President of the Lebanese Businessmen Association (RDCL). “So far the cost of the new scale was not confirmed, and the draft law ratified by the Cabinet last month was not published either. The only certain thing is that the draft law is now out of the Cabinet’s hands.”

The reforms include increasing the working hours in the sector from 32 hours to 35 hours per week. Accordingly, the new schedule within public institutions will be as follows: Mondays to Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break, and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Weekends will be off. According to the Cabinet’s decision, the application of this resolution will be finalized by a decree issued by the President of the Council of Ministers. The maximum overtime hours allowed per employee will be set at 36 hours per month. The total remuneration for overtime and bonuses in one fiscal year shall not exceed 40 percent of employees’ annual salary.

According to Zmokhol each of the reforms requires a law: “We are uncertain that these reforms will be passed as they still have to go through a long legislative process before being finally approved by Parliament.”

The Cabinet’s plan specifies that no retroactive raise shall apply on retirement pensions owed before the salary scale bill is finally voted by Parliament.

The salary scale had faced much criticism, mainly by the economic bodies who warned against its high cost on the economy. “As economic associations, we are not involved in the salary scale conflict but we were only asked to give our recommendations and we duly warned the government against the economic effects of the scale,” Zmokhol said.

As part of the reform plan, public institutions will halt all employment except for first grade employees. The employee evaluation law will also be enforced in all public administrations, including public schools.

In public schools, the rules for gradually reducing the number of teaching hours per week at pre-college levels will become based on teachers’ age, and not on their years of service. The reduction will start gradually after the year a teacher turns 52 years old. The rules of employment and contracting in schools and the Lebanese University will also be regulated.

The plan sets the annual leave for the staffs of the judiciary and the Shura from August 1 to August 31. The plan also adds five years to the minimum years of military service entitling army personnel and employees to retire.
Reported by Hanadi Chami
Date Posted: 10/04/2013
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