Public Service job classifications have remained static for more than two decades

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Public Service has instituted for more than two decades now, an unchanged Classification of Jobs. Fourteen grades were established in relation to five ‘classes’ of ‘public servants’. These are assigned as follows:

  1. i) Administrative
  2. ii) Senior Technical

iii) Other Technical & Craft Skilled

  1. iv) Clerical and Office Support
  2. v) Semi-skilled Operatives & Unskilled

It would require some research to ascertain the factors/criteria used by anonymous compensation management expertise to agree on the categorization. Until then an immediate question on which to ponder, must be how these descriptors could have remained static in the face of the technological advancements which have changed the nature and structure of functions, and even of the same jobs, moreso in the face of reconstructed ‘Agencies’.

A most superficial perusal will reveal such static relationships as exampled in the following:

  • Technology – Typist/Clerk
  • Function – Personnel Officer

Similar anachronisms are quite likely to be observed by those more familiar with their respective operational areas.

Nor is it unlikely that other scrutineers would detect confusion in some of the job gradings. In this connection the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service made the following observations:

“• Job Classifications cut across almost all Grades. The most alarming are grades under the respective classifications: ‘Administrative’ and ‘Senior Technical’ starting from GS2 and continuing from GS4-GS14

“• A Job Classification System cannot be used for positions which do not match in terms of their duties and responsibilities. Instead it is used to:

  1. a) group positions that have similar duties and responsibilities,
  2. b) require same or similar qualifications, experience and training as relevant.”

More specifically the CoI speaks to the palpable overlap in grades. For example examination (though not quite complete) shows the grades under the following:

Administrative

Grades 14-02

Senior Technical

Grades 13-05

Other Technical & Craft Skilled

Grades 08-02

Clerical & Office Support

Grades 05-01

Semi-Skilled & Unskilled

Grades 05-01

The report went on to suggest an ‘Adjusted Job Structure’ as a model, albeit a short-cut to a more comprehensive job evaluation exercise.

It suggested the following reclassification:

“Non-Management    –  Grades 1-5

Supervisory               –  Grades 6-9

Management              –  Grades 10-14”

The Tables of samples of the current classifications in the 2017 National Estimates would appear to indicate that nothing has changed; arguably because the report is yet to be read by the sponsors, since no plans have been indicated for the implementation of any of its recommendations in the immediate future.

More topically however, it is interesting to note that the Chief Prison Officer is in Grade 09 under Senior Technical – at the same level as the Community Liaison Officer in the Ministry of Public Security. Meanwhile, it is notable that there are no ‘Senior Technical Officers’ indicated in the Attorney General’s Chambers or in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. In each instance the relevant skills fall within the category ‘Administrative’.

It would not be unfair to ask for some illumination on what appears to be a diversion (?) perhaps, between the Department of the Public Service within the Ministry of the Presidency (page 709), and the Public Service Ministry (Public Service Management) on page 721 (Source: Public Service Management).

Of course all the above excludes the thousands of ‘Contracted Employees’ who pervade a variety of scales. The mystery deepens as to how they are classified, and assigned comparative job values.

Who knows?

Yours faithfully,

EB John

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