Public servants have scored a major win after the Employment and Labour Relations Court blocked the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) from abolishing non-practice allowance.
The non-practice allowance was intended to facilitate the attraction and retention of specific scarce and critical professional skills in public service. At the time, the government was worried that trained professionals would go into private practice, making it hard for low-paying public sector to attract top talent.
In proposals published late last year, the SRC argued that the situation has changed and proposed to scrap non-practice allowance alongside three others including; retreat allowance, sitting allowance for institutional internal committee members, and task force allowance.
Justice Stella Rutto ruled that the SRC overstepped its mandate when it proposed to abolish the allowance earned by public servants such as doctors and State counsels, as the allowance is a key term of service and a preserve of an employer and a product of a collective bargaining process in cases where there is a duly recognised trade union.
In a circular on November 25, 2022, addressed to county executive committee members and chairpersons of the public service boards, the SRC sought written submissions on the allowance for review, setting, and advice in the public service.
Justice Rutto, however, said SRC can only play its advisory role, where a term of service such as remuneration, has been set by the employer or negotiated and agreed upon between an employer and a trade union in the process of collective bargaining.
“In view of the foregoing, it is my view that the proposal by SRC to abolish the non-practice allowance currently paid to certain categories of public officers is tantamount to setting the terms and conditions of service in the public service,” the judge said.