Gov’t castigated over poor working conditions

  • Salary structures flout best practices
  • PEMANDU wants structure overhauled


Government‘s failure to attract and retain talent in the public service has been attributed by Malaysian research firm, PEMANDU Associates, to a rigid remuneration system full of limitations.

PEMANDU Associates’ report was conducted for the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), completed on December 20th 2018, titled ‘Remuneration System Project Report for Grades A to D.’

The research paper sought to make an assessment of the public sector salaries and wages, which were found by the firm to have been over 45 percent lower than the market rate. Consequently, the research firm recommended a salary of up to 20 percent increase, would cost government at least P1.4 billion.

It states that while remuneration policies are important for an efficient public service, which is crucial for a functioning economy, Botswana salary range is narrow and lacks overlaps making it difficult for an employee to advance in terms of increments.

The consultants said it leaves most of the employees stagnant at the ceiling of their salary grade waiting for a vacancy to occur at a higher grade for a promotion.

Further, they said the Botswana public service today lacks a comprehensive remuneration structure and does not follow best practices. “The current remuneration system in Botswana is rigid and limiting, cumbersome to manage while legacy issues tend to distort the salary structure. While arguments that adequate pay is crucial to sustain motivation, performance and integrity of public servants, there is also evidence globally that Government workers either cut back their productivity or hours of work when salaries are low,” read the report.

Consequently the Malaysian researchers recommended a review of the remuneration system to make it flexible enough to attract and retain the necessary skills and to make it robust enough to maintain internal and external equity. A good remuneration system, according to the consultants, is a necessary part of effective management. The local remuneration follows a traditional model made up of grades and notches within grades according to the report. It means that an employee will have to start employment at the bottom notch of the grades since the remuneration system is not flexible enough to take into account special skills and experience.

This according to PEMANDU Associates means that the employee can only move up from one notch to another based on promotion.

“The notches are steep meaning an employee will reach the ceiling of the particular grade quickly. The current structure does not follow the norm in terms of range and notches therefore it is complex and difficult to manage. This means that there is no review process to sustain a motivated workforce and productivity, the historical reviews were based on the President of the country.”

In order to sustain the parity of public service salaries, government was advised to establish a formal remuneration process to regularly review the system to ensure alliance with the market standards.

It also recommended a redesign of the salary structure to have broad bands that get broader at the higher grade with a degree of overlap between one range and another. “This will allow employees to advance in the same range without the need for promotion. It recognizes experience and allows flexibility in offering compensation to new recruits,” the reports recommended

In reaction to the report Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) President Martin Gabobake said though they appreciate the report they still want to sit down to scrutinize every detail before they could take a position.

Similarly Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) President Obonolo Rahube said he cannot comment as this could compromise the ongoing negotiations with the employer.”