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Bediatuo on the back foot

Mon, 6 Jul 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

Nana Bediatuo Asante, Secretary to the President, should refrain from further loose public banter with Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the Auditor-General.

Bediatuo’s letter dated 3 July 2020 with reference OPS191/1/20/943 with the subject RE: ACCUMULATED ANNUAL LEAVE – MR. DANIEL YAW DOMELEVO is full of problems and noise.

Let us review it methodically using our usual tools; facts, evidence and reason.

First, paragraphs three and four of page one and paragraphs three and four of page three are ill informed.

An employee’s conditions of service do not supersede the labour law.

If an employee signs an agreement that is contrary to the labour law, that agreement insofar as it is inconsistent with the constitution and laws is void.

Second, the language that someone is not a lawyer so they should be forgiven for a wrong interpretation of the law does not hold.

Do lawyers not fall foul of the law all the time? Indeed do they not give wrong and preposterous interpretations of the law all the time?

Surely we do not need to give examples so PLEASE cut that out!

Third, there are thousands of so-called casual workers who have worked for about 10 years.

Employers keep abusing workers’ rights with instances of bogus conditions of service and appointment letters.

The Labour Law emphasises that anyone who has worked for a continuous period of six months is deemed a permanent employee whether or not their employer has given them an appointment letter.

Why do we have employees who have stayed beyond six months not been laid off?

They will take the employer to CHRAJ – simple. So everyone keeps quiet and they keep working.

This is a not uncommon situation both in government and private employment.

Fourth, is the Office of the President suggesting that we should all take our leave now?

In the health sector, supervisors literally beg critical care staff to remain at post.

This is especially so in the case of the anaesthesia team.

Fifth, if annual leave is mandatory, and cannot be forfeited as Bediatuo pointed out, how and why does it accumulate?

By his logic, countless employees in ghana must immediately apply for all outstanding leave, and the management cannot refuse or delay approval, which will leave many workplaces empty of some of the most essential workers.

Oftentimes bosses approve the requested leave with full benefits, and immediately thereafter “buy the time” of the worker as “a locum staff” to get an essential worker to resume duty from the very next shift or after a few working “days off”.

Sixth, is Bediatuo also saying that because Domelevo does not have access to records of the Office of the President – he who alleges must prove – we cannot tell that annual leave regulations are being breached within the civil service and public service?

If Parliament calls him and the Chief of Staff to bring the list of those who have taken their leave will they refuse?

By convention, the employer can ask the employee to hold on, and not take their leave because there may be work to be done.

In such cases, the leave cannot be said to have been forfeited, can it?

Seventh, Bediatuo who tells non lawyers to keep quiet over legal matters informs us, in the reply to Domelevo that the president has “accepted” and added the 2020 annual leave, by implication of Domelevo’s letter, thereby increasing the leave to “167 working days”.

Has Domelevo applied for his 2020 annual leave; or a leave application form does not matter anymore?

The message being conveyed by Bediatuo is that there has been sloppiness on the part of the employer.

The employer is acting selectively and appears keen to avoid a probe, with respect to the Kroll scandal involving Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Minister, who remains at post while investigations proceed.

As my mentor will lament, “Every day you wake up with higher order thinking to do, then you read or hear the usual drivel occupying the public space”.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah