Public Service Commission Report on the Management of leave in the Public Service

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Purpose and scope of the investigation
1.3 Methodology

  1. Measures regulating the management of leave

2.1 Introduction
2.2 The Public Service Staff Code and Regulations

2.2.1 Vacation leave
2.2.2 Sick leave
2.2.3 Maternity leave
2.2.4 Special leave
2.2.5 Leave gratuity
2.2.6 Control measures prescribed by the PSSC and the PSR

2.3 The new Public Service Regulations
2.4 The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997

  1. The administration of leave

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Competence of officials involved with the management of leave

3.2.1 Knowledge of the applicable prescripts and procedures
3.2.2 Accessibility to appropriate prescripts

3.3 Recording of leave

3.3.1 Process followed to record leave
3.3.2 Factors that impact on the effectiveness of leave record systems

3.4 Control mechanisms

3.4.1 Audits
3.4.2 Attendance registers
3.4.3 Summaries of leave taken
3.4.4 Providing leave credits on pay slips
3.4.5 Leave planning
3.4.6 Records kept by line managers

3.5 Effectiveness of current leave record systems

3.5.1 Leave forms are not filed chronologically
3.5.2 Not all leave taken is recorded
3.5.3 There are long delays before leave is captured
3.5.4 Requirements in terms of medical certificates are not always met

  1. Leave accrual

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Current status of leave accrual in the Public Service
4.3 The reasons for high levels of leave accrual

4.3.1 Accrued leave is seen as a savings plan
4.3.2 High work pressure
4.3.3 Negative attitude of managers towards leave
4.3.4 Lack of income
4.3.5 Lack of co-ordination of leave arrangements with spouses
4.3.6 Dependency on income generated through overtime
4.3.7 Work environment
4.3.8 Non recording of leave taken

  1. Unethical conduct

5.1 Introduction
5.2 The abuse of sick leave
5.3 Taking leave without prior notification
5.4 Not adhering to official work hours
5.5 Selling of recommended application for leave forms
5.6 Conclusion

  1. Core problem areas identified during the investigation

6.1 Introduction
6.2 List of problems identified

6.2.1 Not all officials are familiar with the relevant prescripts and procedures
6.2.2 There is a lack of department specific policies to supplement the national policy on leave
6.2.3 Logistical problems are experienced with the recording of leave.
6.2.4 Infrastructure problems are experienced in regional offices
6.2.5 Leave records obtained from the pre-rationalised public
6.2.6 Control measures are insufficient
6.2.7 Mistakes were identified on leave records
6.2.8 Leave accrual in the Public Service is excessively high
6.2.9 Officials make themselves guilty of unethical conduct in respect of leave

6.3 Conclusion

  1. Leave administration as applied by other institutions

7.1 Introduction
7.2 Issues relevant to the South African-Public Service

7.2.1 The control of leave
7.2.2 Accrual of leave

7.3 Conclusion

  1. Proposals to improve the management of leave

8.1 Introduction
8.2 Developing a comprehensive departmental policy on leave

8.2.1 Clarification of the national prescripts on leave
8.2.2 Explaining the procedures for the recording of leave
8.2.3 Control measures to be applied
8.2.4 Providing guidance on how to deal with sickness absence
8.2.5 Limiting leave accrual

8.3 Decentralising leave administration.
8.4 Increasing competency to deal with leave administration
8.5 Limiting leave accrual

  1. Conclusion

Annexure: Summary of checklists utilised during interviews

Full Document (6 Mb)


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 The accrual of leave by public servants is a practice with significant financial implications for the State as employer. If leave is not managed and controlled effectively it can result in substantial losses in terms of unwarranted expenditure. The financial, and other implications, of leave prompted an investigation by the Public Service Commission aimed at determining how effective leave is managed in the Public Service. The investigation was conducted in eight (8) national departments.

  1. MEASURES REGULATING THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE

2.1 The measures that regulate the granting of leave in the Public Service were, prior to the implementation of the new Public Service Regulations (PSR) contained in the Public Service Staff Code (PSSC) and the old PSR. Public servants in general qualify for between 30 and 36 days' vacation leave per annum and 120 days sick leave in a cycle of three years.

2.2 The new PSR was implemented with effect from 1 July 1999. The most significant departure from the previous leave prescripis is that departments will now have to establish a written policy on special leave and negotiate such a policy in its bargaining councils. Greater emphasis is also placed in the new PSR on the responsibility of heads of department to monitor and control leave.

2.3 The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), 1997, provides that an employer must at termination of employment pay an employee for any period of annual leave that the employee has not taken. This provision will result in additional costs for the State as employer when the BCEA, 1997, becomes applicable to the Public Service on 1 June 2000.

  1. THE ADMINISTRATION OF LEAVE IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE

3.1 Competence of officials involved with the management of leave

3.1.1 Officials, with a few exceptions, displayed a' basic knowledge of the applicable prescripts and procedures regarding vacation leave. A matter of concern, however, was that not all managers had direct access to the appropriate prescripts.

3.2 Recording of leave

3.2.1 All departments use the Personnel and Salary System (PERSAL) administered by the Department of State Expenditure to electronically record leave. In addition to the electronic capturing of leave, the human resource management (I-IRM) components of departments also keep leave files of all officials in their respective departments.

3.2.2 A major concern that was identified is the effect that the structure of a department has on the effectiveness of leave administration. Both departments who have regional offices as well as departments whose employees are situated in more than one building, experience logistical problems with the recording of leave.

3.3 Control mechanisms .

3.3.1 A basic control mechanism built into the process for the recording of leave, in all departments, is the checking of leave captured on PERSAL by a Senior or Principal Personnel Officer.

3.3.2 The fields created on PERSAL for the recording of leave in itself cannot function as a control mechanism but must be supported by other measures. It remains an electronic register entirely dependant on the information captured by operators.

3.3.3 Audits, attendance registers, summaries of leave taken, leave credits on pay slips, leave planning and records kept by line managers are additional control measures that were observed during the investigation.

3.4 Effectiveness of current leave record systems

3.4.1 In order to ascertain whether the record systems utilised by departments are effective, the leave records of 96 employees were inspected. The following issues were of particular concern:

  • Leave forms are not filed chronologically.
  • Not all leave taken is recorded.
  • There are long delays before leave is captured.
  • Requirements in terms of medical certificates are not always met.

3.4.2 Statistics provided by PERSAL supported the findings of the inspection. According to PERSAL, no leave was recorded for the period 16 July 1998 and 15 July 1999 in respect of 489828 public servants (48,2 % of all public servants).

  1. LEAVE ACCRUAL

4.1 Current status of leave accrual in the Public Service

4.1.1 The current measures that regulate leave in the Public Service do not place any limitation on the accrual of vacation leave. Except in the case of personnel working with finances, officials are also not forced to take a prescribed number of days leave per annum. The aforementioned, in combination with the high number of days leave that public servants can accrue per annum (30 to 36), obviously results in high levels of leave accrual in the Public Service.

4.1.2 The officials interviewed as part of this investigation accrued on average 9,5 days vacation leave per annum. This translates to an average leave credit at termination of service (if a person has 35 years service) of 332,5 days.

4.1.3 The full implications of high levels of leave accrual for the Public Service becomes clearer when one considers the financial implications attached thereto. The State as employer's total liability on accrued vacation leave, as on 30 September 1998, amounted to R11, 6 billion (R11,600,000,000).

4.1.4 An exposition of the average leave accrual per age group in the Public Service provides insight into the short term implications of leave accrual. The average leave credits for officials over the age of 55 (and therefore those most likely to retire in the short term) are 103 days. The State's liability in terms of the leave credits of these officials is R1,2 billion.

4.2 The reasons for high levels of leave accrual

4.2.1 The following reasons were provided for high levels of leave accrual:

  • Accrued leave is seen as a savings plan.
  • High work pressure.
  • Negative attitude of managers towards the granting of vacation
  • leave.
  • Lack of income.
  • Lack of co-ordination of leave arrangements with spouses.
  • Dependency on income generated through overtime.
  • Non recording of leave taken.
  1. UNETHICAL CONDUCT

5.1 Managers in the Public Service are confronted on a daily basis with the following unethical conduct relating to leave:

  • The abuse of sick leave.
  • Taking leave without prior notification.
  • Not adhering to official working hours.
  1. CORE PROBLEM AREAS IDENTIFIED DURING THE INVESTIGATION

  • Not all officials are familiar with the relevant prescripts and procedures.
  • There is a lack of department specific policies to supplement the national policy on leave.
  • Logistical problems are experienced with the recording of leave. Infrastructure problems are experienced in regional offices.
  • Leave records obtained from the pre-rationalised public services are incomplete. Control measures are insufficient.
  • Mistakes were identified on leave records.
  • Leave accrual in the Public Service is excessively high.
  • Officials are guilty of unethical conduct in respect of leave.
  1. LEAVE ADMINISTRATION AS APPLIED BY OTHER INSTITUTIONS

7.1 The existing problems facing the South African Public Service in terms of the administration and control of leave are by no means unique. Institutions in both the private and public sectors have to overcome similar difficulties in ensuring that all leave is recorded.

7.2 Certain institutions, such as ESKOM and the South African Post Office (Ltd) have started to creatively deal with the problems relating to the control of leave. ESKOM is currently piloting a system whereby certain leave categories are electronically captured by individual supervisors. The South African Post Office (Ltd), on the other hand, has implemented a comprehensive absenteeism control policy to assist managers.

7.3 A limitation of leave accrual is furthermore embodied in the leave policies of these institutions. Employees are generally allowed to accrue only a limited number of days leave per annum and in many instances they are obliged to take prescribed periods of leave per annum.

  1. PROPOSALS TO IMPROVE THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE

The following proposals are made on how the management of leave could possibly be improved:

8.1 Departments must develop comprehensive departmental policies on leave providing for-

  • clarification of the national prescripts;
  • explanation of the procedures for the recording of leave;
  • control measures to be applied, i.e.-
  • compulsory record systems to be kept by management,
  • procedures whereby managers can control that leave has been captured,
  • absenteeism control,
  • internal audits;
  • guidance on how to deal with sickness absence; and
  • limitation of leave accrual.

8.2 Departments with regional offices must decentralise the administration of leave and create the necessary infrastructure in the regions.

8.3 Training should be provided at all levels to ensure that the role players involved are sufficiently informed of their responsibilities regarding the administration and management of leave.

8.4 Limiting leave accrual through encouraging officials to take leave and a revision of the relevant national prescripts contained in the collective agreements attached to the new PSR.

  1. CONCLUSION

9.1 The development of effective control mechanisms and the promotion of a professional work ethos in the Public Service are of utmost importance. It is only through the establishment of these processes that unethical behaviour in the Public Service (as highlighted in this report) can be eradicated.

 

  1. INTRODUCTION


1.1 INTRODUCTION
 

Background The accrual of leave by public servants is seldom recognised by executing authorities and top management as a practice with significant financial implications. Historically, the Public Service has not been overly concerned with increases in leave liability due to the fact that the cost of leave has never posed a short-term problem. Accrued leave is currently only paid at retirement, discharge (for specific reasons), death or when severance packages are taken by officials.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), 1997, however, provides that accrued leave must be paid even at resignation. The provisions of the Act, which will apply with effect from 1 June 2000, will place an additional financial burden on the Public Service. The need to manage leave effectively, from a financial perspective at least, is therefore becoming increasingly important.
Managers in the Public Service have a responsibility in ensuring that sick, study and other forms of special leave are not manipulated by public servants. The wrongful manipulation of leave can result in substantial numbers of working hours being lost. This can also translate into a cash cost, especially where departments have their activities curtailed and have to appoint relief staff (additional) to ensure the continuity of services.
Apart from its financial implications, leave is also a vital human resource management (HRM) instrument at the disposal of employers to ensure healthy and productive work environments. An aspect sometimes ignored by management both in the public and private sectors, is the effect of high levels of leave accrual on the health and productivity of individuals. The primary objective of vacation leave is to allow officials the opportunity to rest in order for them to remain at their highest levels of productivity.


1.2 PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
 

Purpose The financial and other implications of leave highlighted, prompted an investigation by the Public Service Commission to determine how effectively leave is managed in the Public Service. Specific attention was given during the investigation to assess the following:
  • What administrative systems are in place in the Public Service to deal with the management of leave.
  • Whether managers in the Public Service are familiar with the relevant departmental and national prescripts regarding leave.
  • How and where leave is recorded and whether the record systems are effective.
  • What is the current status of leave accrual in the Public Service.
  • What problems are experienced in respect of the management of leave.
Scope The following eight (8) national departments were identified and agreed to participate in the investigation:
  • Agriculture
  • Environmental Affairs and Tourism
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Justice
  • Land Affairs
  • Public Works
  • Trade and Industry
  • Water Affairs and Forestry


1.3 METHODOLOGY
 

Interviews In order to obtain the required information, interviews were conducted with officials responsible for the administration of leave as well as a minimum of three line managers and six line functionaries (two under each manager) per department. The interviews conducted with line managers  and their subordinates were not only limited to components at the head offices of the participating departments. Interviews were also conducted at the regional offices in Mpumalanga Province, Northern Province and Western Cape Province of five of the departments. The questionnaires used during the interviews were designed to obtain information relevant to the purpose of this investigation as highlighted in paragraph 1.2.
Inspections A total of 96 leave files (± 12 per department) as well as the corresponding records captured on the Personnel and Salary System (PERSAL) were inspected and compared with the records kept by line managers. It was intended to determine whether leave taken is captured and deducted from officials' leave credits.
Comparative  studies In addition to the interviews and inspections at departments, a number of studies private and public sector institutions were consulted to obtain information on how leave is administered and managed.

For purposes of this report a brief exposition of the measures that regulate the management of leave in the Public Service is provided for information and as background to the findings of the investigation. The findings of the investigation at the departments are contained in the chapters dealing with-

  • the administration of leave (Chapter 3);
  • leave accrual (Chapter 4);
  • unethical conduct (Chapter 5); and
  • key problems identified (Chapter 6).

The findings of the comparative study are provided in Chapter 7 and lessons are drawn on how the management of leave can be improved in the Public Service.

 

  1. MEASURES REGULATING THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE

2.1 INTRODUCTION

A brief analysis of the measures regulating leave in the Public Service is provided in this Chapter.

2.2 PUBLIC SERVICE STAFF CODE AND REGULATIONS
 

Leave is a privilege The measures that regulate the granting of leave in the Public Service were, at the time of this investigation, contained in the Public Service Staff Code (PSSC) and the old Public Service Regulations (PSR). With the exception of the measures in respect of special leave, these measures have not been amended through the implementation of the new PSR on 1 July 1999. It is important to note that leave of absence is a privilege in the Public Service and that it is granted only with due regard to the exigencies of the Public Service.


2.2.1 Vacation leave

Employees in the Public Service accrue the following number of days vacation leave per annum:
 

Employees with at least ten years' service: 36 days
Employees with under 10 years' service: 30 days


As opposed to leave systems which only count actual work days for leave purposes, days of rest and public holidays that fall within a period of leave are also counted as leave in the Public Service (hence the seemingly high number of leave days that can be accrued per annum).

2.2.2 Sick leave

Employees are granted 120 days sick leave with full pay per cycle of three years and a further 120 days with half pay per cycle of three years. An additional 120 days sick leave with full pay may be granted to officials with more than 10 years' service once during her/his public service career.

2.2.3 Maternity leave

Leave may be granted on the basis of 84 days leave with full pay for a maximum of two confinements. Paid leave may be provided for more than two confinements in exceptional circumstances (such as remarriage, death of a child, pregnancy following a sterilisation, etc.).

2.2.4 Special leave

In addition to vacation, sick and maternity leave, various other forms of special leave are granted to public servants. These include, inter alia, the following:

  • Examination leave to prepare (one day) and sit for an exam (one day).
  • Study leave on a 50/50 basis for purposes of preparatory work relevant to a person's field of study. This is granted on the basis of one day study leave for each day vacation leave taken.
  • Officials who are selected by an amateur sport association to take part as a competitor, coach or manager.

2.2.5 Leave gratuity

Leave gratuities, calculated by multiplying an official's total number of days accrued leave by her/his annual salary on termination of service and dividing it by 365, are payable to officials whose services terminate for one of the following reasons:

  • Retirement.
  • Discharge-
  • on account of continued ill-health (without own default);
  • owing to the abolition of his/her post as a result of reduction/reorganisation;
  • if it will promote efficiency/economy (reasons other than unfitness or incapacity); and
  • on account of unfitness for his/her duties or incapacity to carry them out efficiently (not misconduct).
  • Death.
  • Termination of a contract employee's services.
  • Termination of an official's services due to his/her spouse being transferred and there is no vacant post available in any department at the spouse's new headquarters.

2.2.6 Control measures prescribed by the Public Service Staff Code and the old Public Service Regulations

The PSSC and old PSR required that departments comply with the following in terms of control measures:

  • The utilisation of a standardised leave form which must be completed in all cases where leave is taken.
  • The keeping of a leave register in respect of each officer and employee in which all absences from duty must be recorded.


2.3 THE NEW PUBLIC SERVICE REGULATIONS
 

Greater responsibility  on heads of department The only amendment of the measures regulating leave that coincided with the implementation of the new PSR on 1 July 1999 is the requirement for departments to establish a written policy on special leave. Departments need to negotiate such a policy in its bargaining councils. Heads of departments will be responsible to monitor and control leave. In this regard the new PSR provides as follows:
  • An employee must be encouraged to fully utilise her or his vacation leave in the year earned.
  • Leave taken by an employee must be recorded accurately and in full.
  • It must be ensured that employees do not abuse sick leave.

The new PSR also provides that when a departmental budget is presented the executing authority shall publish an annual report which must, inter alia, include the following information:

  • The average number of days sick leave taken in a department by level and occupation. Total number of days sick leave taken. The estimated cost for the department. The number of individuals who took more than 15 continuous days sick leave in that year.
  • The number of employees dismissed due to ill health.


2.4 THE BASIC CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT ACT, 1997
 

Additional financial burden In terms of Section 40 (b) of the BCEA, 1997, which becomes operational on 1 June 2000, an employer must at termination of employment pay an employee for any period of annual leave that the employee has not taken. Thus the provisions of the BCEA will place an additional financial burden on the State as employer. Greater pressure will come to bear on managers in the Public Service to monitor and contain leave accrual to acceptable levels.

 

  1. THE ADMINISTRATION OF LEAVE

3.1 INTRODUCTION

This Chapter contains the findings of the investigation on how effectively leave is managed and administered in the Public Service. The competency of the role players involved with the management of leave and the efficiency of procedures, control mechanisms and record systems are discussed.

3.2 COMPETENCE OF OFFICIALS INVOLVED WITH THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE

3.2.1 Knowledge of the applicable prescripts and procedures
 

Lack of guidance The officials interviewed displayed a basic knowledge of the measures regarding vacation leave. It was, however, observed that certain managers and their subordinates were less informed of the measures regarding sick leave and the various forms of special leave. One of the major problem areas identified by managers was a lack of guidance on how to deal with cases where an abuse of sick leave is suspected.

All managers interviewed were familiar with the processes that apply in their respective departments on the application and recording of leave. Certain managers, however, were not aware of the instruments that could be utilised to assist with the monitoring of absenteeism (especially in larger components).

The majority of departments investigated have developed and held orientation courses for newly appointed employees. These courses are beneficial as officials are informed of the various conditions of service that apply. It became, however, apparent that managers do not nominate new officials to attend these courses due to work pressure.

It is essential that managers in the Public Service be provided with the necessary training to enable them to fulfill their managerial obligations in respect of conditions of service, and leave in particular. The investigation revealed that there is a lack of training opportunities for members of the management echelon. Whilst there are orientation courses for new officials, there are limited opportunities available for managers who are new appointees to the Public Service.

Conclusion Following observations at the participating departments, there is a need for guidance and training of managers on their roles and responsibilities on the management of leave.


3.2.2 Accessibility to appropriate prescripts
 

Not all managers have access to prescripts In order to ensure the effective management of leave, managers in  the Public Service should, as a minimum requirement, have direct access to the relevant measures. This, however, was somewhat lacking as the prescribed measures on leave are not provided to all line managers. Of the managers interviewed, 20% were not in possession of copies of the PSSC and the old PSR.

HRM components were of the opinion that managers could direct any enquiries regarding the national prescripts to them. In practice this, however, creates difficulties especially where national prescripts are amended and managers are not informed timeously.

It was found that various explanatory memoranda and circular minutes are compiled by the HRM components of departments wherein the national prescripts as well a9 departmental procedures are explained in detail. These documents are very useful to assist managers. However, as with the national policy, not all managers are in possession of such memoranda and circular minutes.

A limited number of departments have developed policy documents / departmental prescripts regarding specific forms of leave. An example is the development of department unique prescripts dealing with sick leave for mental health illnesses and study leave. It was found that managers in the departments that have developed these policies were more confident in dealing with possible problem cases on the abuse of leave.

Conclusion Not all managers have direct access to the appropriate prescripts or are provided with guidelines which would assist them to effectively manage leave.


3.3 RECORDING OF LEAVE

The recording of leave is the final and most important step in the administration and management of leave. If record systems are inefficient or not utilised in the correct manner it will have a significant financial implication for the State as employer. Leave gratuities are calculated in accordance with the leave credits captured on the record systems kept by departments. If the records are not accurate it will result in employees being paid leave gratuities, at termination of service, which are based on higher leave credits.


3.3.1 Process followed to record leave
 

Leave recorded on PERSAL All departments use PERSAL administered by the Department of State Expenditure to electronically record leave. In addition to the electronic capturing of leave, the HRM components of departments also keep leave files of all officials.

Each department has unique processes that precede the recording of leave which are influenced by departments having regional or site offices. All processes applied by the participating departments have the following steps in common:

  • Applications for leave are recommended by managers.
  • The recommended leave forms are forwarded to the HRM components for approval after checking whether an official has sufficient leave credit.
  • The approved leave is captured bn PERSAL whereafter it is filed on the relevant official's leave file.


3.3.2 Factors that impact on the effectiveness of leave record systems
 

Structure of a department A major concern that was identified is the effect that the organisational structure of a department has on the effectiveness of leave administration. Departments with regional offices as well as those whose employees are situated in more than one building, experience logistical problems with the recording of leave.
Decentralisation Most departments with regional offices are in the process of decentralising HRM functions and establishing regional HRM components.

In cases where decentralisation has not taken place, problems are experienced in that leave forms have to be forwarded to Pretoria for capturing. This creates obvious logistical and control related problems. Leave forms do not always reach their intended destinations. This is exacerbated by the lack of control mechanisms.

Although regional HRM components have been established problems are still experienced in the recording of leave. Capacity to deal with the added responsibilities in all regional offices that were inspected was lacking. Infrastructure problems such as insufficient terminals and limited access to PERSAL were evident. As a result, leave forms are still forwarded by certain regional offices to Pretoria even though regional HRM components have already been established.

Backlogs with the capturing of leave Officials responsible for the recording of leave are not in all cases  fully trained. At one regional office substantial backlogs with the capturing of leave have developed (one and a half years' leave have not been captured). The HRM component in the specific region has even informed managers that the capturing of leave is for the interim not deemed a priority.

It was also found that where departments have personnel situated in different buildings in the same centre, similar logistical problems to those with regional offices are experienced. At one department an attempt has been made to overcome these logistical problems by creating Management Support Services (MSS) components for all chief directorates. It is premature to determine whether this approach will be successful. However, the advantages of such a system include the following:

  • Leave forms are not conveyed over long distances before being recorded. The logistical problems experienced are therefore eliminated.
  • The leave records kept by the MSS components and those on the PERSAL system are more accessible to line managers and their subordinates.
  • The work load normally attached to the HRM component is spread evenly throughout the Department, thereby diminishing the possibility that backlogs will occur.
Impact of the rationalisation process An aspect that has a direct impact on the recording of leave is  the rationalisation process which commenced in 1994. The leave records of officials of the former homelands and self governing territories are still being updated in various departments. The leave records of numerous officials were obtained with great difficulty. In many instances the records obtained are incomplete and it is not possible to retrieve the lost information.

This will pose problems for departments when leave gratuities need to be calculated of officials at retirement or when opting to take the Voluntary Severance Package (VSP). The leave credits paid to such officials can only be based on estimates, a situation which is totally undesirable.



3.4 CONTROL MECHANISMS

The record systems kept by departments can only be effective if there are control mechanisms in place to ensure that all absenteeism is accounted for. A basic control mechanism built into the process for the recording of leave, in all departments, is the checking of leave captured on PERSAL by a Senior or Principal Personnel Officer. However, this control mechanism is only effective to ensure that applications for leave that has reached the HRM component are recorded. Managers must ensure that-

  • all absenteeism from work is accounted for by means of an appropriate leave form; and
  • the completed leave form reaches the HRM component.
     
PERSAL not sufficient to control leave The fields created on PERSAL for the recording of leave in itself cannot function as a control mechanism but must be supported by other measures. It remains an electronic register entirely dependant on the information captured by operators.

The following additional control measures were observed at the participating departments:

3.4.1 Audits

In all departments leave records are audited regularly by the Office of the Auditor General. Audits are also undertaken by the HRM components of officials who retire or take the VSP. The audits are conducted by comparing the leave records kept by the HRM components with the records as captured on PERSAL.

3.4.2 Attendance registers

In certain components an attendance register is kept. Although this is not a popular practice amongst officials (who view this as a questioning of their integrity), the maintenance of attendance registers in especially larger components has proven effective in monitoring absenteeism.

3.4.3 Summaries of leave taken

In one department it is a requisite that each component submits a summary of all leave taken by its officials at the end of each month to the HRM component. This is a very useful practice to ensure that all leave forms have reached the HRM component and are captured.

3.4.4 Providing leave credits on pay slips

In the past leave credits were provided to officials on a regular basis on their pay slips. This served, to a limited extent, as a control mechanism in that officials could verify whether leave taken by them has been deducted from their leave credits. This practice, however, has been stopped in most departments due to the fact that the HRM components were inundated with enquiries. These enquiries emanated from the fact that the leave credits provided on the pay slips were in many instances incorrect. As a result of these enquiries one department undertook an audit of the leave records of all its officials. Currently leave credits are requested in most departments from the HRM components only when the need arises.

Few managers plan leave 3.4.5 Leave planning

Through effective leave planning the management and control of leave can be significantly simplified. Only a few managers interviewed plan and schedule leave in their components. The reasons provided for the non-planning of leave are the following:

  • The work pressure in certain components remains constantly high throughout the year. Managers of such components are of the opinion that they are unable to follow a rigid leave plan.
  • Leave is generally taken only during specific periods of the year (school vacations, before and after public holidays, etc.). This makes the need for leave planning redundant.
  • Officials tend to take one or two days leave at a time. This makes it impossible to plan and schedule leave.

3.4.6 Records kept by line managers

Most managers keep their own record systems in respect of leave. This ranges from a schedule on which leave is recorded to filing systems with copies of all leave forms. In certain components leave is also recorded electronically on own devised systems.

Currently leave records kept by managers serve only as an easy accessible source of information of leave taken by officials in their components. As further discussed in- paragraph 3.4.2 the true potential of these systems for control purposes has not yet been realised by any of the departments.

In order to ascertain whether the record systems utilised by departments are effective, the leave records of 96 employees were inspected. The methodology used was to compare the leave records kept by line management, the individual leave files kept by the HRM components and the leave captured on PERSAL. The following issues were of particular concern:


3.5 EFFECTIVENESS OF CURRENT LEAVE RECORD SYSTEMS

3.5.1 Leave forms are not filed chronologically

Leave forms are without exception not filed in chronological order, both on the filing systems kept by the HRM components and line managers. This makes the task of an auditor very difficult. This is a common problem experienced by departments.

3.5.2 Not all leave taken is recorded
 

Mistakes were identified In the majority of departments there were obvious mistakes on the leave records of personnel as captured on PERSAL. A number of days' vacation and sick leave were not captured on PERSAL. This obviously has financial implications for the State as employer when leave gratuities are determined. The problem is that leave forms, for whatever reasons, do not always reach the HRM components.
Records of managers The leave records kept by line management were used by the not used project team to verify the records on PERSAL. In many instances it was found that leave forms filed on the records of managers were not filed on those in the HRM component and consequently not captured on PERSAL. The concern is that the leave records kept by line managers do not form part of the auditing process in any of the departments. Leave is only audited by comparing the leave files kept by the HRM component with that captured on PERSAL.


3.5.3 There are long delays before leave is captured

There is frequently a long delay from the time an application for leave is made until it is captured. In certain cases it takes up to 12 months before leave is captured. This is ascribed to the backlogs experienced with the capturing of leave as a result of the rationalisation process and a lack of capacity in certain of the HRM components.

According to personnel at one of the HRM components, employees could be on a third period of leave (during a year) whilst the first and second periods of leave have not yet been recorded.

3.5.4 Requirements in terms of medical certificates are not always met

In isolated cases it was observed that sick leave of more than three days was not accompanied by a medical certificate, as required by the prescribed measures on absence due to sickness.

Although the problems highlighted above were identified in a relatively small sample of leave files, it is nonetheless a matter of concern. It is clear that not all departments have the necessary control measures in place to ensure that leave taken by their employees are recorded on PERSAL.

These findings are supported by statistics obtained from PERSAL. According to PERSAL 489 828 public servants, including educators, did not take any vacation leave during the period from 16 July 1998 to 15 July 1999 (48,2% of all public servants). A summary of vacation leave used in all departments and provincial administrations is provided in Table 1.
 

Table 1: Summary of vacation leave used by public servants, including educators, for the year ended 15 July 1999
 

Organisation Officials currently employed Officials not using vacation leave Officials using vacation leave
  Number Number % Number %
Eastern Cape Provincial Administration 136024 115507 84.9 20517 15.1
Free State Provincial Administration 59983 29995 50 29988 50
Gauteng Provincial Administration 118734 46448 39.1 72286 60.9
KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Administration 156586 92570 59.1 64016 40.9
Mpumalanga Provincial Administration 51358 32103 62.5 19255 37.5
Northern Cape Provincial Administration 15519 7940 51.2 7579 48.8
Northern Province Provincial Administration

114785

45304

39.5

69481

60.5

North West Provincial Administration

67420

40878

.60.6

26542

39.4

Western Cape Provincial Administration

67432

29943

44.4

37489

35.6

Independant Complaints Directorate

85

0

0

85

100

South African Management and Development Institute

77

0

0

77

100

Arts, Culture Science and Technology

472

11

2.3

461

97.7

Welfare

266

3

1.1

263

98.9

Office of the Deputy President

144

2

1.4

142

98.6

Justice

12830

1073

8.4

11757

91.6

Housing

147

0

0

147

100

Office of the Public Service Commission

108

0

0

108

100

Environmental Affairs and Tourism

1290

42

3.3

1248

96.7

Home Affairs

6331

412

6.5

5919

93.5

Public Works

4312

377

8.7

3935

91.3

Health

1271

361

28.4

910

71.6

Government Communications and Information Systems

280

18

6.4

262

93.6

Office of the President

184

6

3.3

178

96.7

Transport

240

8

3.3

232

96.7

Mineral and Energy

803

20

2.5

783

97.5

Constitutional Development

193

5

2.6

188

97.4

Office of the Public Enterprises

32

1

3.1

31

96.9

Trade and Industry

959

17

1.8

942

98.2

Foreign Affairs

1698

113

6.7

1585

93.3

Labour

5104

170

3.3

4934

96.7

Water Affairs and Forestry

24929

11919

47.8

13010

52.2

Government Printing Works

868

9

1.0

859

99.0

State Expenditure

341

8

2.3

333

97.7

Education

633

10

1.6

623

98.4

Land Affairs

2731

51

1.9

2680

98.1

Finance

670

23

3.4

647

96.6

Agriculture 3046 142 4.7 2904 95.3
Statistics South Africa 673 77 11.4 59.6 88.6
Sport and Recreation 95 3 3.2 92 96.8
South African Police Services 125062 33255 26.6 91807 73.4
Public Service mid Administration 232 2 0.9 230 99.1
Correctional Services 31376 1002 3.2 30374 96.8
Total for the Public Service 1015323 489828 48.2 525495 51.8


Denotes inexplicably high number of officials who have not taken vacation leave
 

Conclusion Conclusion It is unlikely that so many public servants would not have taken leave during a one year period. It would, therefore, appear that-
  • leave forms are not submitted to the HRM-components to be captured; and/or
  • there is a possible backlog of leave forms to be processed on the PERSAL system; and/or
  • leave forms are not completed at all.

PERSAL also indicated that in numerous individual cases it was found that for many years no vacation or sick leave was ever captured on leave records.

 

  1. LEAVE ACCRUAL

4.1 INTRODUCTION

The extent of the financial implications attached to accrued leave is determined by the number of days leave that has been accrued by employees before retirement or termination ofservice for other reasons. This Chapter investigates the current status regarding accrued leave in the Public Service and the reasons for high levels of accrued leave.
 

4.2 CURRENT STATUS OF LEAVE ACCRUAL IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE
 

Measures do not leave accrual The current measures that regulate leave in the Public Service do not place limit  any limitation on the accrual of vacation leave. Except in the case of personnel working with finances, officials are also not forced to take a prescribed number of days leave per annum. The aforementioned, in combination with the high number of days leave that public servants can accrue per annum (30 to 36), obviously results in high levels of leave accrual in the Public Service.

The officials interviewed as part of this investigation accrued on average 9,5 days vacation leave per annum. This translates to an average leave credit at termination of service (if a person has 35 years service) of 332,5 days (nearly a year's salary in leave gratuities). A random sample of five officials per department who retired or took the Voluntary Severance Package confirmed this calculation.

The full gravity of the problem of high levels of leave accrual in the Public Service is depicted in the table at Figure 1 which indicates the distribution of accrued vacation leave in the Public Service as on 30 September 1998.

According to figures obtained from PERSAL a total of 513 512 public servants have accrued in excess of 50 days vacation leave. This translates to 56% of all public servants who are eligible to accrue vacation leave (908 580). The picture is even bleaker when it is taken into consideration that 292 071 public servants (32%) have accrued in excess of 100 days vacation leave.

 

 

The problem arising from the high levels of leave accrual for the Public Service becomes clearer when one considers the huge financial implications attached thereto. The State as employer's total liability on accrued vacation leave, as on 30 September 1998, amounted to R11, 6 billion (R11,600,000,000).

An exposition of the average leave accrual per age group in the Public Service provides insight into the short term implications of leave accrual (Figure 2). The average leave credits for officials over the age of 55 (and therefore those most likely to retire in the short term) are 103 days. The State's liability in terms of the leave credits of these officials (who comprise 7,7% of all Public Servants) is R1,2 billion.

 

 

Conclusion The high levels of leave accrual in the Public Service is a matter of concern both from a financial as well as HRfvl perspective. There is a definite need to address this matter, either by revising the national measures or encouraging officials to take the leave due to them in the year that it is earned.


4.3 THE REASONS FOR HIGH LEVELS OF LEAVE ACCRUAL

The following reasons were observed for high levels of leave accrual in the participating departments:

4.3.1 Accrued leave is seen as a savings plan

The saving of leave credits is seen by-certain officials as a "nest egg" for retirement purposes. A specific case was observed where an official has accumulated more than 900 days vacation leave. Such officials become accustomed not to take leave and their supervisors do not encourage them to do so.

4.3.2 High work pressure

Constant high levels of work pressure do not allow officials to take leave regularly. In components where continuous high work pressure is experienced it was found that leave arrangements are being amended continuously. In such components it frequently happens that officials are called back from vacation to attend to urgent issues. Many officials in such components develop a strong loyalty towards their colleagues and their work. They are therefore reluctant to apply for leave for fear of being viewed as deserting their team.

4.3.3 Negative attitude of managers towards the granting of vacation leave

In isolated cases it was pointed out by the subordinates interviewed that their managers have a negative attitude towards the granting of vacation leave. In these circumstances many officials are reluctant to approach their managers to request leave. Certain officials interviewed expressed dissatisfaction about the fact that they have to submit a full motivation to their supervisors for vacation leave. The reasons provided in their motivations are interrogated by their supervisors and ill feelings prevail.

4.3.4 Lack of income

Officials at the lower levels indicated that they do not earn enough money to be on holidays away from home. Thus there is no incentive for them to take leave.

4.3.5 Lack of co-ordination of leave arrangements with spouses

Married couples experience difficulties to co-ordinate their leave arrangements especially where they work for different employers. The officials who experience such problems indicated that they would rather avoid taking leave in a year than going on leave separately from their spouses.

4.3.6 Dependency on income generated through overtime

Where remunerated overtime is performed for extended periods, staff are reluctant to go on leave due to the fact that their income will be reduced during this period. Staff are accustomed to the additional income generated through overtime as being part of their basic salary.

4.3.7 Work environment

Although not specifically identified as such by the officials interviewed, it was observed that leave accrual is higher in work environments away from an office situation. Officials working in natural surroundings are less exposed to stress and quite often experience higher levels of work satisfaction.

4.3.8 Non recording of leave taken

Another contributing factor to high levels of leave accrual is the non recording of leave taken by officials. As highlighted in Chapter 3.4 this is the direct result of problems with the administration and control of leave.

Conclusion The reasons provided for the high levels of leave accrual may be ascribed to very few managers actually encouraging their subordinates to take leave. Not all managers in the Public Service have realised the importance of leave as an instrument to create a healthy and productive work environment.

 

  1. UNETHICAL CONDUCT

5.1 INTRODUCTION

Many of the problems experienced with the management of leave can be avoided if work ethics in the Public Service is improved. This Chapter examines the problem areas as far as conduct is'concerned as identified by officials.

5.2 THE ABUSE OF SICK LEAVE

The majority of managers interviewed were of the opinion that the provisions regarding sick leave are being abused by officials. The most common problem is that officials currently do not have to submit medical certificates for sick leave in respect of periods of absence of three days and less, up to a maximum of 10 days per annum.
 

Increase in sickness
According to the managers there has been an increase over the last couple absence of years in the number of days sick leave taken by officials. It has become common practice for many officials to take sick leave for one or two days at a time before and after weekends and pay days without submitting a medical certificate. In certain cases subordinates stay away from work without informing their supervisors of their absence. In some components managers are dealing with this tendency by requesting officials to submit medical certificates for all sick leave (even for one day at a time). In other components, however, there is a level of apathy in dealing with the abuse of sick leave.
Questionable medical certificates  According to a number of managers the medical certificates issued by medical practitioners are in many instances questionable. In certain cases the information provided by subordinates to their supervisors regarding the nature of their illness differs substantially from what is indicated on the medical certificate. Managers are not sure whether they are in a position to question doctors.


5.3 TAKING LEAVE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTIFICATION

There is a tendency especially amongst lower level workers in certain departments investigated to stay away from work without prior notice. When such persons arrive back at work, managers must request them to complete application for leave forms. According to the managers certain officials are reluctant to do so.

At one of the components where this practice occurs frequently the manager indicated that, apart from taking the matter up verbally with the relevant officials, no substantive disciplinary steps are taken. The reason provided was that the disciplinary proceduresrare too cumbersome and time consuming.

5.4 NOT ADHERING TO OFFICIAL WORKING HOURS

In larger components it is sometimes difficult for managers to monitor absenteeism. Managers identified cases where officials arrive at work and sign the attendance register. Immediately after signing the register they leave and their colleagues cover for them whilst they are away.

In order to eliminate the occurrence of such misconduct the co-operation of all levels of supervision is required. In one component investigated a manager keeps a record of all absence from official duty with the cooperation of the supervisors of the components under her control. As soon as an official's absence totals more than eight hours he/she is compelled to apply for one day's leave.

5.5 SELLING OF RECOMMENDED APPLICATION FOR LEAVE FORMS

At one of the departments it was mentioned that a messenger was caught selling recommended application for leave forms back to officials who applied for leave. The messenger's duty was merely to take leave forms from one building to another in order for it to be recorded. The effect of the misconduct of the messenger and the officials' involved was that leave taken was not captured on PERSAL nor recorded on the leave files kept by the HRM component. Had the misconduct not been identified and addressed, it would have benefitted the officials involved in the long term through a higher leave gratuity at termination of service.

5.6 CONCLUSION

The financial implications attached to leave provide incentive for corruption. There are many phases in the process for the recording of leave where the role players involved can ensure that a leave application is either not completed, forwarded to the HRM component or captured on PERSAL.
 

  1. CORE PROBLEM AREAS IDENTIFIED DURING THE INVESTIGATION

6.1 INTRODUCTION

Various matters were highlighted during the preceding paragraphs which raise concern about the management of leave in the Public Service. The purpose of this Chapter is to briefly discuss those areas identified through the investigation which will pose significant problems to departments.

6.2 LIST OF PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED

6.2.1 Not all officials are familiar with the relevant prescripts and procedures

Not all officials are sufficiently informed of the national prescripts relating to leave. Consequently certain officials possess limited knowledge of certain forms of leave. This problem is compounded by the fact that the national as well as departmental prescripts on leave are not provided to all managers. Not all managers are therefore aware of their duties and responsibilities in respect of the management of leave. Limited training opportunities exist to assist managers in this regard.

6.2.2 There is a lack of department specific policies to supplement the national policy on leave

Not all departments have procedure manuals and other guidelines in place which assist managers in giving effect to their role on the management of leave. There is especially a big void in respect of guidance to managers on how to control absenteeism.

6.2.3 Logistical problems are experienced with the recording of leave

Departments which have regional offices in the provinces or are situated in more than one building, experience logistical problems with the recording of leave. Leave forms do not always reach the HRM components where it must be recorded and filed.

6.2.4 Infrastructure problems are experienced in regional offices

A lack of sufficient infrastructure exists in certain cases where regional HRM components have been established. There is a lack of capacity in terms of trained staff, limited access to PERSAL and insufficient terminals. These problems can be ascribed to the fact that many of the regional HRM components have only recently been established and that departments are still in the process of building capacity.

6.2.5 Leave records obtained from the pre-rationalised public services are incomplete

Difficulties are being experienced with the calculation of leave gratuities of officials of former homelands and self governing territories due to incomplete leave records. Although the rationalisation process commenced in 1994, departments are still trying to obtain and update the leave records of officials who were absorbed into the new Public Service.

6.2.6 Control measures are insufficient

There are insufficient control measures in place in certain departments to monitor absenteeism and to ensure that all leave are recorded. A contributing factor in this regard is the fact that departments do not utilise the records kept by line management when conducting audits. The real value of the leave records kept by managers for control purposes has not been realised yet.

6.2.7 Mistakes were identified on leave records

Various mistakes were. identified on the leave records on PERSAL and on the leave files kept by the HRM components. The most important of these was that leave recorded by managers were not always recorded on PERSAL. It was also observed that there are long delays from the date of application for leave until it is captured.

6.2.8 Leave accrual in the Public Service is excessively high

The figures obtained from PERSAL and from the departments who participated in the investigation indicate that leave accrual is excessively high in the Public Service. The current prescripts make it difficult to limit leave accrual other than encouraging officials to take leave.

6.2.9 Officials are guilty of unethical conduct in respect of leave

Managers must cope with various forms of unethical conduct by their subordinates on the abuse of the leave provisions. Sick leave especially is abused by officials and not all managers are confident in dealing with such cases.

6.3 CONCLUSION

The problems highlighted in paragraph 6.2 will need to be addressed if the Public Service is to succeed in managing leave effectively. Various problems relate to the inability of departments to ensure that all leave taken is actually recorded. In view of the financial implications attached to accrued leave, specific attention will have to be given to the control processes. These control processes must ensure that all leave is recorded.

 

  1. LEAVE ADMINISTRATION AS APPLIED BY OTHER INSTITUTIONS

7.1 INTRODUCTION

Bearing in mind the problem areas identified during the investigation, with specific emphasis placed on obtaining information on leave accrual and the control of leave, the following public and private institutions were consulted:

ESKOM
TRANSNET
The Post Office
The Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council
The Northern Pretoria Metropolitan Sub-Structure
The South African Breweries (SAB)
First National Bank (FNB)
NISSAN
 

7.2 ISSUES RELEVANT TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN PUBLIC SERVICE

7.2.1 The control of leave
 

Similar difficulties are experienced A number of lessons can be learnt from the practices applied in these institutions. The existing problems facing the South African Public Service in terms of the administration and control of leave are by no means unique. Institutions in both the private and public sectors have to overcome similar difficulties in ensuring that all leave is recorded.

Certain institutions, such as ESKOM and the South African Post Office (Ltd) have started to creatively deal with the problems relating to the control of leave. ESKOM is currently piloting a system whereby certain leave categories are electronically captured by individual supervisors. ESKOM endeavours through this exercise not only to have direct control over leave transactions, but also to minimise administrative delays. This also gives supervisors access to do enquiries directly on the electronic leave register.

Absenteeism control The South African Post Office (Ltd), on the other hand, has implemented a comprehensive absenteeism control policy to assist managers. The objectives of this policy are to reduce the number of hours spent by managers in dealing with problems stemming from unauthorised absences (such as loss of production time and training temporary substitutes). It is envisaged that with such a policy attendance will improve if management controls absence.
Attendance registers In addition to the initiatives of ESKOM and the South African Post Office (Ltd) it was ascertained that the maintaining of attendance registers is a common practice in nearly all institutions. At certain institutions leave records are compared with attendance registers to ensure that all absenteeism from work are accounted for.

With the exception of the pilot study being conducted at ESKOM, all institutions consulted follow a similar approach to the Public Service in that leave is recorded at their HRM components (or finance components). Leave forms must therefore be conveyed from the manager who has approved it to the component where it is recorded. In order to ensure that the leave forms reach the component where it is recorded, managers in one of the institutions, as a control measure, ' use a register which accompanies all leave forms. The component responsible for the capturing of the leave must acknowledge receipt of each leave form on the register whereafter the register is returned to the relevant manager.

It is also interesting to note that the South African Public Service is in actual fact more advanced than certain of these institutions as far as the electronic capturing of leave is concerned (PERSAL). The challenge, however, is to put the necessary mechanisms in place to ensure that the correct information is captured on PERSAL.


.2.2 Accrual of leave
 

Leave policies limit leave accrual The institutions consulted do not experience the same problems in terms of high levels of leave accrual than that experienced in the South African Public Service. A limitation of leave accrual is embodied in the leave policies of these institutions. Employees are generally only allowed to accrue a limited number of days leave per annum and in many instances they are obliged to take prescribed periods of leave per annum. In many institutions, accrued leave is paid out on an annual basis.

The leave policy of NISSAN (Automakers (Ltd)) serves as an example in this regard. Employees at NISSAN are entitled to between 15 and 25 work days annual leave depending on their job grades and years' service. At least 15 consecutive days annual leave must be taken per year. Any portion of the mandatory leave not taken is forfeited. Accumulated leave in excess of twice an employee's annual entitlement is paid out each year at the end of February.


7.3 CONCLUSION

Whilst there are similarities in the problems which the Public Service and these institutions experience, on the control of leave, the initiatives taken by certain institutions should serve as an example of what can be done in this regard. It is clear from the information obtained on the leave policies of these institutions that the Public Service will only be able to effectively deal with high levels of leave accrual by amending its leave policies accordingly.

  1. PROPOSALS TO IMPROVE THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE

8.1 INTRODUCTION

The ultimate responsibility to ensure that leave is managed effectively in the Public Service lies with individual departments. Bearing in mind the inherent deficiencies of leave management in the South African Public Service identified through this investigation, and the lessons to be learnt from other institutions, proposals are being made in this Chapter on how the management of leave could possibly be improved.

8.2 DEVELOPING A COMPREHENSIVE DEPARTMENTAL POLICY ON LEAVE

According to paragraph 11.11 of Resolution 3 of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Chamber, implemented with the new PSR on 1 July 1999, departments will have to establish a written policy on special leave and negotiate such a policy in its bargaining council. Nothing, however, precludes departments from developing comprehensive departmental policies on all forms of leave as long as it does not deviate from the national prescripts on leave. Due consideration should be given by departments to the development of such a policy which, apart from the compulsory provisions on special leave, could also provide for the following:

8.2.1 Clarification of the national prescripts

The inclusion of the national prescripts in the departmental policy should be considered in order to make the policy as comprehensive as possible. The wording of the national prescripts could be simplified so that it is understood by all officials in the department.

8.2.2 Explaining the procedures for the recording of leave

The entire process that must be followed for the application, approval and recording of leave must be explained in detail. This can serve as a procedure manual for those employees involved with the administration of leave as an annexure to the policy document.

8.2.3 Control measures to be applied

The departmental policy should give guidance on the control measures which should be utilised by managers and the components responsible for the recording of leave. Consideration should be given to provide for the following practices.

  • Establishing compulsory record systems to be kept by management

The record systems kept by individual managers proved invaluable during this investigation as an extra source through which leave records could be audited and verified. It also became apparent that these records are not utilised to their real value by departments as a control mechanism. Consideration should be given to request managers in the Public Service to keep formal records of leave taken. A leave file should be kept in respect of each official in their components in which copies of all application for leave forms should be filed. The responsibility to maintain the record system in a component may be delegated to any official deemed appropriate by the manager.
 

Records of managers to be As a standard arrangement the leave records kept by used for audits management should be utilised when audits of leave records are conducted. These records can be forwarded to the HRM components when the audits are conducted.

If an official is transferred or promoted the leave records kept by her/his supervisor should accompany the leave records of the HRM component to her/his new department.

  • Establishing procedures whereby managers can control that leave has been captured

All leave forms forwarded to HRM components should be accompanied by a register (for each employee) on which acknowledgment of receipt must be indicated. The register must be safeguarded with the relevant leave file of the employee kept by the manager.

Printouts from PERSAL to be provided to managers Managers should on a monthly basis be provided with printouts from PERSAL on the leave taken by officials in their components. The printouts must be compared with the leave records kept by managers and any discrepancies should immediately be cleared with the HRM component.
  • Absenteeism control

Excessive unauthorised absences can seriously affect the Public Service's productivity. Absences can be limited to acceptable levels by introducing appropriate management practices. By controlling absence managers will also ensure that leave taken is accounted for.

Attendance registers can play an important role in verifying that all leave has been captured. Not all components , however, are large enough to warrant the keeping of an attendance register. In smaller components managers could make notes of absences from work in their diaries.

There is no substitute for personal supervision and it is the manager's responsibility to ensure that people arrive at work, perform during working hours and leave on time.

In cases where electronic access systems are in place, these systems could be utilised to ensure that all absence from work is accounted for. This, however, should not replace the responsibility on management to keep their own attendance registers.

Attendance registers should furthermore be used to reconcile applications for leave submitted in a specific component during a month with actual absences from work as reflected on the attendance register.

If the practice of using attendance registers is implemented in departments, employees should be informed of the important role that it plays in controlling leave of absence. Employees should not be given the impression that their integrity is being questioned.

  • Internal audits

Apart from audits conducted by the Auditor-General, departments should of their own accord, audit all leave records on an annual basis. If this practice is applied consistently it will eliminate problems experienced with the calculation of leave gratuities at termination of service.

The responsibility of conducting the audit could be assigned to the HRM component or the internal audit unit. The leave records kept by managers should be used during such audits.


8.2.4 Providing guidance on how to deal with sickness absence

It should be considered to incorporate the following in departmental policies to minimise the abuse of sick leave:

  • An employee must contact her/his supervisor personally or via another person on the same day that she/he falls ill that she/he will not be able to be on,duty.
Sickness absence to be monitored The number of times that an employee takes sick leave without submitting a medical certificate should be monitored carefully. According to the PSSC a head of department may, at her/his discretion, require the submission of medical certificates in respect of periods of three days or less, notwithstanding the provision that sick leave without a medical certificate may be granted for an aggregate of 10 days during any year. Departments could in this case be guided by the provisions of the BCEA, 1997, which provides that an employee who takes two days or less sick leave on a third occasion within a period of eight weeks must produce a medical certificate.
  • Managers should pro-actively discuss the reasons for absenteeism with their subordinates in cases where a high frequency of sick leave is taken without the submission of medical certificates. It should be pointed out to subordinates that the frequency of sick leave absence is a source of concern for management. Attendance therefore will have to be improved to prevent the concession of uncertified sick leave from being forfeited. If a high frequency of sick leave without submitting a medical certificate persists, the concession of uncertified sick leave may be suspended. The audi alterim partem rule should obviously be applied before such an action is taken.
  • Managers must ensure that the medical certificates issued by doctors comply with the following:
  • The medical certificate is original, not a copy.
  • It is issued by a registered medical practitioner.
  • It includes information on the consultation date, the nature of the illness and sick leave recommendations.
  • It includes an explanatory comment if the date on which the official was booked-off precedes the consultation date.
  • Further guidance should be incorporated in the policy on how to deal with cases where it is believed that sick leave is being abused.
  • As indicated in Chapter 2 of this report, departments are required by the new PSR to report on sickness absence levels. The Public Service Commission has activated an investigation to establish the nature of information required to effectively monitor and manage absence due to sickness leave. Departments and provincial administrations will be requested to participate in the investigation. The findings of the investigation can also be incorporated in departmental policies and procedures.


8.2.5 Limiting leave accrual
 

Encourage staff to take leave Managers should be informed of their role in ensuring that officials  take sufficient periods vacation leave to rest. In cases where officials have excessively high levels of accrued vacation leave, managers must actively encourage them to take extended periods of vacation leave.


8.3 DECENTRALISING LEAVE ADMINISTRATION

Create the necessary infrastructure As indicated, various departments have commenced with the decentralisation of HRM functions. Leave, however, in many instances is still administered centrally. Although cognisance is taken of the financial constraints within which departments and provincial administrations operate, due consideration should be given to invest time and money in establishing the infrastructure required in regions to effectively manage leave. Currently leave has a substantial long term financial implication through the payment of leave gratuities. The implementation of the BCEA, 1997, in the Public Service will also create short term financial implications on leave.

Access to PERSAL should therefore be provided in all regions where HRM components have been established and sufficient terminals should be provided. PERSAL should also be more accessible to managers. The decentralisation of leave administration should coincide with a strengthening of control measures. The prescribing of control measures as proposed in paragraph 8.2.3 should receive priority.

 

8.4 INCREASING COMPETENCY TO DEAL WITH LEAVE ADMINISTRATION

Provide training Training is necessary at all levels to ensure that the relevant role players are sufficiently informed of their responsibilities on the administration and management of leave.

Orientation courses must be scheduled more regularly and should include information regarding the leave measures which apply in the Public Service. It must be emphasized that the responsibility rests with each official to maintain high standards of ethical behaviour.

Managers should be provided with training and' refresher courses (in cases where procedures and prescripts change) regarding their responsibilities on leave management and administration. Consideration could be given to include the departmental policy on leave as part of the course material.

Officials who are delegated the responsibility to maintain leave records for managers, must be trained on the relevant procedures.

Officials who capture and authorise leave on PERSAL should receive adequate training in order to discharge their responsibilities effectively. Sufficient numbers of officials must be trained to capture leave on PERSAL. This will alleviate problems experienced with capacity, especially in the regions.

 

8.5 LIMITING LEAVE ACCRUAL

DPSA to revise leave policy The problem with high levels of leave accrual can only partially be addressed through encouraging officials to take leave. There would also have to be a revision of the national prescripts. The Department of Public Service and Administration should therefore consider developing such a leave policy on the following lines:
  • Employees only be allowed to accrue a limited number of days leave per annum.
  • Employees be obliged to take a prescribed period of leave per annum which will be forfeited if not taken.
  • Sick leave cycle be reduced from 120 days to 60 days with full pay in a cycle of 3 years.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

It is trusted that this report will reinforce the importance of effective leave management in the Public Service. Specific advice have been outlined on how to improve the management of leave and the steps departments need to take.

Role of managers is important An important aspect that came to the fore during this investigation is the prominent role that individual managers play in ensuring effective leave management. Managers have already put a great deal of effort into the establishment of record systems. It needs to be built on as a control mechanism.

Through the development of effective control mechanisms the manipulation and misuse of leave provisions in the Public Service can be minimised. It must be stressed that the impact of the human factor on these control mechanisms, however, could reflect negatively on its success.

Promote a professional work ethos The promotion of a in the Public Service is professional work therefore of utmost importance. It is only through the establishment of ethos such an ethos that unethical behaviour as highlighted in this report can be eradicated.

 


ANNEXURE

SUMMARY OF CHECKLISTS UTILISED DURING INTERVIEWS

  1. INTERVIEW WITH THE HEADS OF THE PERSONNEL AND LEAVE ADMINISTRATION COMPONENTS:
  1. POLICY

1.1 Analysis of departmental policy

  1. Does your department have a departmental policy on leave and if so what does it entail?
  2. Who are/were the role players in the formulation of the departmental policy on leave?
  3. To whom and how is the departmental policy, including amendments thereto, communicated?

1.2 Access to national policy

  1. To whom and how is the national policy, including amendments thereto, communicated?
  2. Are new appointees provided with training in respect of the national prescripts?
  1. ADMINISTRATION/MANAGEMENT 2.1 Process for approving and recording leave
  1. Describe the process for the recording of leave.
  2. The following should be probed if not covered by the answer provided in respect of questions (a):
  1. Are copies of application for leave forms returned to line managers?
  2. Are individual leave files updated?
  3. Is the number of days leave taken captured on PERSAL? (iv) How is the number of days leave to a person's credit determined?
  1. How long does it take on average to register/capture application for leave on both individual leave files and on PERSAL?
  2. Are line management and staff informed of their leave credits regularly?

2.2 Responsibility of management

  1. Are line managers required to keep leave records of personnel, and if so is a specific record system prescribed?
  2. Are personnel encouraged by line managers to take the leave accrued in a year?
  3. Is it required of line managers to provide officials with their leave credits?
  1. TENDENCIES IN RESPECT OF LEAVE

3.1 Periods of leave taken

  1. Are there preferences on the taking of leave during specific periods of the year?
  2. Are there preferences on the taking of leave for shorter (one or two days at a time) or longer periods (two or more weeks at a time)?

CONTROL

  1. Are leave records audited?
  2. If so:
  1. What is the frequency of the audits?
  2. How are audits conducted?
  3. Who is responsible for the audits?
  1. Besides the registering and auditing of leave, what other administrative control measures are utilised?
  2. The following should be probed if not covered by the answer provided in respect of question (a):
  1. Sick leave, i.e:
  • High frequency of sick leave (one to two days at a time).
  • Verification of medical certificates.
  1. Mismanagement of leave by line managers, i.e:
  • Not submitting application for leave forms to the Personnel Component.
  • Not submitting application for leave forms to the Personnel Component timeously.
  • Not keeping adequate records.
  1. Study leave, i.e:
  • Submitting of examination time-tables.
  1. Maternity leave, i.e:
  • Record of the number of confinements.
  • Specialised authority for such additional confinement.
  1. CONSTRAINTS EXPERIENCED IN RESPECT OF THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE:
  1. What constraints are experienced in the general administration of leave, with specific reference to:
  1. The mechanisms for the recording/capturing of the number of days leave taken on both the individual files, as well as on PERSAL.
  2. The auditing of leave records.
  3. The responsibilities of line managers as far as leave is concerned.
  4. Control measures on leave. (v) Other constraints being experienced.
  1. What constraints are being experienced in respect of the national policy regarding all forms of leave?
  1. INSPECTION: COMPONENT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF LEAVE
  1. A copy of the Departmental Leave Policy (if any), was obtained and analysed.
  2. Individual leave files were inspected (sample correspond with officials interviewed in components).
  3. The number of days leave taken/recorded on selected individual leave files were checked against information captured on PERSAL.
  4. Copies of reports of auditing teams were obtained and analysed.
  5. The mechanism/procedure for the recording of the number of days leave taken was inspected.
  6. Information was obtained on leave credits paid out to officials who recently retired or have taken the voluntary severance package.
  1. INTERVIEW WITH LINE MANAGERS:
  1. POLICY

1.1 Analysis of departmental policy

  1. Are you aware of the departmental policy (if any) on leave and what it entails?
  2. Are you in possession of a copy of the departmental policy or how is it communicated to you?
  3. Were you at any stage involved in the formulation of the Departmental Leave Policy?

1.2 Access to national policy

  1. Do you have a copy of the Public Service Staff Code and the Public Service Regulations and are amendments thereof provided to you? (Ask questions to determine knowledge of the prescripts)
  1. ADMINISTRATION/MANAGEMENT

2.1 Process for approving and recording leave

  1. Describe the prescribed procedure in your department for submitting leave forms.
  2. Do you keep your own record system of leave taken ih your component?
  3. Is the responsibility for the keeping of the records system assigned to any specific official?
  4. How soon after application for leave forms were submitted to the Personnel Component are copies thereof returned for your own record purposes, if at all?
  5. Are you informed programmatically (on pay slips) of leave credits or can leave credits only be obtained through a formal request to your personnel component?

2.3 Responsibility of managers

  1. Do you inform your subordinates of their leave credits, and if so, how regular?
  2. Do you have a leave policy for your specific component supplementary to the departmental policy, and if so, what does it entail?
  3. Do you provide new appointees in your component with training regarding the prescripts in respect of leave?
  4. Is leave planned and scheduled well in advanced in your component?
  5. e) If so:
  1. When is this done?
  2. Is the leave schedule adhered to?
  1. Do you encourage employees to take the leave accrued during a given year?
  1. TENDENCIES IN RESPECT OF LEAVE

3.1 Periods of leave taken

  1. What is the tendency in respect of the periods of leave taken with your component? (Do subordinates take long leave or one or two days at a time)
  2. In pursuance of question (a), what is the impact thereof on services rendered by your component?
  3. Do you have any preferences in respect of how leave should be taken (the duration thereof)?
  4. Is there a period during the year when the taking of leave is preferred?
  5. What are the line function activities of your component?

3.2 Accrual of leave

  1. How many years' service do you have and how many days leave have you accrued?
  1. CONTROL
  1. Are PERSAL printouts requested from time to time in order to audit your own and your subordinates' leave records?
  2. What control measures are exercised in respect of leave with specific reference to:
  1. The abuse of sick leave.
  2. Ensuring that all leave is registered on the individual leave files.
  3. Other control measures.
  1. CONSTRAINTS EXPERIENCED IN RESPECT OF THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE:
  1. What constraints are experienced in the general administration of leave, with specific reference to:
  1. The mechanisms for the recording of the number of days leave taken.
  2. The auditing of leave records.
  3. The responsibility of the Head of the Personnel Component as far as leave is concerned.
  4.  Control measures pertaining to leave.
  5. Other constraints experienced.
  1. What constraints are experienced on national policy regarding all forms of leave?
  1. INSPECTION: LINE MANAGERS
  1. Copies of annual leave schedules were obtained.
  2. Leave files/records of the Line Manager were inspected and compared with that of the personnel component. m
  3. Copies of the unique leave policies of components were obtained.
  1. INTERVIEW WITH LINE FUNCTIONARIES:
  1. POLICY

1.1 Departmental policy

  1. Are you informed of and familiar with departmental prescripts (if any), on leave?
  2. Are these prescripts accessible to you?

1.2 Access to national policy

  1. Are you familiar with and do you understand the measures pertaining to leave? (Ask questions to determine knowledge of the prescripts)
  2. Are these prescripts accessible to you?
  1. ADMINISTRATION/MANAGEMENT

2.1 Process for approving and recording leave

  1. Is record kept of the number of days leave taken within your component?
  2. If so, are such records easily accessible to you?
  3. Are you informed of your leave credits by your supervisor/Personnel Component, and if so, how regular?

2.2 Responsibility of management

  1. Are you encouraged to take the days leave accrued in a given year?
  2. Is leave planned and scheduled well in advance in your component?
  3. How rigid is the leave schedule adhered to?
  1. TENDENCIES IN RESPECT OF LEAVE

3.1 Periods of leave taken

  1. How regular do you take leave and what is the normal duration of your leave?

3.2 Accrual of leave

  1. How many days leave (credit) have you accrued up to now an how many years have you been in service?
  2. In cases where a high number of days leave has been accrued- what is the reason for not taking leave?
  1. CONTROL
  1. When you are on sick leave, is it required of you to attach a medical certificate to your application for leave form?
  2. When applying for study leave is it required of you to attach an examination time table to your application for leave form?
  3. Is there any system which is utilised to verify/register hours of attendance and if so what does it entail?
  1. CONSTRAINTS EXPERIENCED IN RESPECT OF THE MANAGEMENT OF LEAVE:
  1. Do you experience any problems when applying for leave, and if so, what are the nature of these problems?
  2. Do you experience any problems/shortcomings with the recording (leave credits) and recordkeeping (filling systems) of leave, and if so, what is the nature of these problems/shortcomings?
  3. Do you experience any other problems in respect of leave in general?

 

 

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