A new government sub-decree addressing the regulation of working hours and attendance for civil servants and government contract employees was submitted to the Council of Ministers on Friday in an effort to increase productivity, but is still short on oversight and accountability, one observer said yesterday.
So-called “ghost workers” – employees who are paid for jobs they never turn up for, or who simply don’t exist – have plagued government payrolls for decades.
According to a summary of the decree that was made public, it allows for each ministry to set work schedule requirements, such as working hours and rules for working remotely or from home.
The sub-decree still requires the prime minister’s signature in order to become law.
While the summary makes no mention of how civil servants will be kept accountable, Public Function Minister Pech Bunthin, whose ministry wrote the sub-decree, yesterday said the full text includes provisions to punish those who fail to abide by regulations.
“By having that sub-decree, we ask that every civil servant be accountable; because for those who don’t come to work, they will receive a punishment like being fired; and for those who work hard, they will be promoted,” he said.
Chan Youttha, a spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, welcomed the new rules, saying it “empowers the institution to handle the work and allows them to be flexible”.
Ou Virak, head of the think tank Future Forum, said there are positives in allowing institutions the liberty to set work schedules based on the realities of different jobs.
However, Virak recommended that an oversight mechanism be put in place to ensure accountability.
“There should be an independent evaluation . . . to make clear the work roles and responsibilities” of each ministry, he said, explaining that ministries can have overlapping responsibilities, making the evaluation of staff difficult.
Public Function Minister Bunthin, however, maintained that “we don’t need any independent audit or evaluation, because every ministry or institution has audits to evaluate the performance of the civil servants and the quality of their work”.