Officers cry foul over deductions of special salary
More than 2,000 police officers will this month receive either nil salaries or less than what they have been earning after special allowances paid to graduate Police Constables was scrapped.
As a result of the latest decision by the National Police Service Commission (NPSC), officers were surprised to find their payslips reading either negative pay or less than Sh1,000, as the authorities moved to recover the house allowance it said officers have been earning illegally.
Officers were being paid a salary equivalent to what Inspectors are paid, though they were not entitled to the same allowance.
However, NPSC cancelled the payment and as a result most officers’ deductions exceeded the earnings, leaving a nil net pay. NPSC chief executive Joseph Onyango yesterday confirmed the reversal, saying the matter had been subject to several discussions in the past and even ended in court leading to protracted court battles between the two parties.
“It is true the deductions were made but we were following a court order. The court said there was no rank like Graduate Constable and the Circular that allowed the officers such a salary was no longer valid thus the salaries paid were illegal,” he said.
Officers on the other hand held that it was wrong for their employer to reduce their salaries, saying the law requires an employer to engage employees in cases that would warrant downgrading of salaries.
“Our salaries are already committed to loans. Downgrading it now means negative pay to most of us, which in turn has a trickle-down effect to our families and dependents,” an officer said.
Commission and police headquarters have, however, maintained that it was the lesser of the evil.
Following the formulation and approval of the career progression guidelines, 2016 the commission downgraded salaries of graduate Police Constables, who were being paid salaries of Job group J equivalent to the rank of Inspector.
However, in March 2018, the court ruled in favour of the officers. The commission did not challenge the ruling but instead reinstated the salaries.
“We have been earning salaries under the designation ‘Graduate constables’, equivalent to that of Job group ‘J’ as Inspector of police. It is our position that all the affected officers should be considered for promotion to the rank of Inspector to enable them have responsibilities commensurate with their salaries,” they said.
Officers added that stagnation in rank of Constable despite possessing the requisite qualifications had been a source of psycho-social and emotional instability for most of them.
An Inspector earns a basic salary of Sh57,300, this includes officers who graduated before 2016 while non-graduate in job group ‘F’ earn a basic of Sh31,000.
They also enjoy a monthly house allowance of Sh24,950 while those in the Constable rank earn Sh14,300. The group also gets risk allowances of Sh11,000 while the Constables in job group F pocket Sh9,000 monthly.
Inspectors and Constables also earn a flat rate of Sh4,000 as commuter allowance. They further revealed that most of them felt demoralised and neglected, and that was why some of them exit the service for greener pastures.
As a result, some of the affected officers are contemplating quitting the service. In the past, most professionals have exited the service for greener pastures since their salary is still pegged on rank and to some extent the length of service.
The officers said the 2021/22 Financial Budget had been passed by Parliament and that their salaries were part and parcel of the same. “This, therefore, means that paying and continuing to pay our salaries does not and won’t affect the wage bill by any single cent.
Any budgetary allocations to the service in future shall also not be affected as reference will be made to the previous ones and improvements made in the same direction,” the officer wrote.
NPSC, however, said the service currently has about 4,000 graduates, who were yet to be promoted to the rank, adding that the service could only allow a certain number of Inspectors at any given period, commonly referred to as the establishment.
In human resource, establishment is the total number of officers in a given rank needed to execute the department’s or the institution’s functions.
Onyango had earlier in 2019 directed that all the salary adjustments and variation, on the basis that they have either acquired additional certificates (degree) or that their status have changed due to disability thus categorised as People With Disability, be revoked and reverted to their original pay and designation.
“The commission has made the decision that all salary adjustments and variations based on the above be revoked and reverted to their original pay and designation.
“You are requested to implement the decision by stopping additional payment and/or reversing tax exemption with immediate effect,” he directed.
Most graduate Constables are waiting to join various training colleges for their promotion courses. The high number is attributed to limited capacities in the colleges.
Commission had in the past raised concerns that some officers, who were still pursuing degree courses were included in the payroll as graduate Police Constables and were earning salaries equivalent to Inspectors.
To deal with exit from the service and brain drain, the commission early this year came up with a policy direction that required all specialists recruited into the service will have to serve for at least 10 years before they are allowed to exit.
This year, at least 300 specialists were recruited as Cadet Inspectors while another 4,700 Constables were also recruited.
Of the 4,700 recruits, 2,400 joined AP Service while the other 2,300 joined GSU. This last recruitment, according to the NPSC, was driven more by the recruits’ skills.
“Service needs to match skills to the hiring needs. The specialists were trained for free and it was only fair that they serve before they consider exiting the service. It will be a loss for us if they come and leave in, for example, two years,” the chair said.
Early this year, police headquarters and NPSC dismissed reports that Graduate Constables were being side-lined, saying the service had already sent 902 graduate officers for promotion courses.
Graduate Constables had vowed to challenge the February 2021 recruitment of specialists, saying there were over 3,500 graduates who were yet to be promoted to the rank of Inspector. At the DCI, there are over 600 graduates who are still Constables.
Police headquarters in the past said that in the next three years the service will have promoted all the deserving graduates.