… also suspends the early retirement scheme for civil servants

Lhakpa Quendren  

While civil servants adding other types of leave to the special leave (EOL) has been a customary practice, there are no clear guidelines on whether this is allowed.

However, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) during its 165th meeting on December 27 decided that civil servants prefixing and suffixing different types of leave to EOL will be not allowed with immediate effect.

In the notification issued yesterday, the commission said prefixing other types of leave to EOL does not align with the rationale underpinning EOL and also disrupts service delivery in agencies.

Civil servants who have already availed themselves of earned leave prefixed to EOL, coinciding with their effective promotion date, will be considered absent from duty for promotion.

They are not eligible for promotion in line with the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations (BCSR) 2018. However, their promotion will be effective only after rejoining their agency coinciding with the earliest promotion cycle.

Section 13.6.15 of the BCSR 2018 states that even if a civil servant has fulfilled eligibility criteria, his promotion shall not be processed approved during his absence from duty and availing of medical leave beyond three months, EOL and long-term study leave or when long-term training (LTT) status in CSIS is ‘reported but pending completion’.

It states, however, a civil servant while pursuing LTT under mixed mode shall be eligible for promotion subject to fulfilling other criteria including his or her presence in office at the time of processing and effecting the promotion.

Going by the data with RCSC, an all-time high of 542 civil servants have availed themselves of EOL this year alone. This was followed by 502 civil servants in 2019, 387 in 2018, and 273 in 2020 while 2021 saw comparatively low with only 155 civil servants availed of the EOL.

In August, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) also notified, based on the structural reforms and transformation exercise carried out by the RCSC, staff under OAG who wishes to avail of the EOL should apply for compulsory resignation.

EOL is a facility extended to civil servants to avail themselves of sabbaticals for up to 24 months, in their long years of service as career civil servants.

Early retirement scheme suspended  

The RCSC also reviewed and suspended it after finding it did not serve its intended purpose while adding cost to the government exchequer.

The suspension is with immediate effect and will remain until the RCSC reviews its policy on EOL and accordingly develops a new or revised scheme that aligns with the ongoing civil service reforms.

The RCSC official said that because of the difficult financial situation of the government, the Commission suspended the ERS for the moment. “Further, RCSC also felt that the ERS needed to be revised holistically,” said the official.

The initial aim of the ERS when it was instituted in 2006 was to facilitate civil servants in certain performance and qualification categories to retire early.