The education arts and culture ministry has topped the list of ministries that have paid the most to its employees in gratuity leave, having forked out a whopping N$180 million between 2016/17.
The latest report by the Public Service Commission shows that a total of 1 103 staff benefitted, and these meant more females (615) than males (487).
The basic rule is that any staff member is granted at least 24 consecutive days of vacation leave with full remuneration, also called annual leave, at the end of a leave cycle every year.
This however excludes staff members employed at educational and training institutions which close completely during periods when instruction is suspended.
“It seems that this provision is not being adhered to and as a result, OMAs (are being) paid huge amounts of money for accrued vacation leave on the termination of staff members’ services,” lamented the Public Service Commission.
Meanwhile, Section 37 (1) of the Labour Act, 2007 (Act 11 of 2007) states that on termination of employment, an employer must pay the employee all the remuneration due to the employee for any period of annual leave due for any completed annual leave cycle in terms of Section 23.
The Commission’s director, Alfred Tjirorua Tjihambuma, said they are emphasising that offices, ministries and organisations “try to encourage or make sure that staff members on annual basis make use of this provision”.
He however said the N$180 million claims in the education ministry could partly be due to the fact that it employs many staff than other ministries.
Yet many teachers continue to claim for their accumulated gratuity upfront on retirement, he added.
“These are some people who have retired, or some even having died. Even if you pass on, your family can come and claim. Our message is to ensure that OMAs at least do control their staff members or make sure that they make use take annual leave accordingly, otherwise the government will end up paying a lot of money that should be going to other services,” he said.
The ministry of agriculture water and forestry came in second of the top spenders with more than N$4.2 million having been paid in the period under review.