A Labour Consultant and a former Deputy Minister for Employment and Social Welfare under the erstwhile NDC government , Austin Gamey, has stated that the concept of accumulated leave, which is mostly prevalent in Ghana’s public sector, is not backed by the labour law.
According to him, per Section 31 of the Labour Act, unused leave periods are forfeited and not automatically rolled over as accumulated leave as has been described.
The subject matter has re-emerged after President Akufo-Addo ordered the Auditor General, Daniel Domelovo, to proceed on his 123 days accumulated leave.
Annual leave allows employees to take paid time off from work for the purpose of having regular breaks to enable them take a rest and re-energize.
This practice is believed to keep employees more motivated about their work, as they’re able to perform more effectively than those who do not experience it.
But among Ghana’s public sector workers in particular, there’s a culture of employees forfeiting their leave periods either deliberately or forced, only to eventually benefit from what is known as accumulated leave.
This barely happens in the private sector, where a leave period is mostly forfeited when it is not taken within the year.
Labour Analyst, Austin Gamey, told Citi Business News Human Resource Managers ought to be blamed for the accumulated leave concept which is a flaw.
According to him, it is the mandate of HR personnel to ensure that all workers take their annual leave.
He says per Section 31 of the Labour Act, an agreement to forgo or forfeit leave days when not taken that particular year is void; and therefore the decision by President Akufo-Addo to ask the Auditor General to proceed on accumulated leave is against the Labour law.
“The HR, having everybody in mind, if possible gets a desk officer, who will be entrusted with the role of ensuring every employee takes their leave, then that way the leave register is religiously followed because it is annual leave, not accumulated leave” he explained.
He further explained that “Section 31 of our law clearly states that you cannot even connive with anybody to forego your leave because the intent here is to even enable people rest before they return to work. There is no excuse whatsoever under our labour practice that somebody can accumulate leave. So with the case of the Auditor General, the reality is that the leave has been forfeited”.
President Akufo-Addo directed the Auditor-General, Daniel Yaw Domelevo, to proceed on his accumulated annual leave of 123 working days starting from Wednesday, July 1, as he had only taken nine days since he assumed office in 2017.
The President’s decision is based on sections 20 (1) and 31 of the Labour Act, 2003 (651).
An official Jubilee House statement also explained that the move follows the precedent set by the late President John Evans Atta Mills, who once asked the then Auditor-General, Edward Dua Agyeman, to also proceed on his 264 accumulated annual leave in 2009.
Mr. Gamey says the justification by the President in reference to the 2009 precedence is unwarranted.
“If there is anything good in yesterday, bring that practice today to be emulated. But don’t bring negative things of yesterday into today. Even if the late former president, John Atta Mills then approved of an accumulated leave, it doesn’t justify it enough to be practiced. It is a wrong precedent” he stated.
Mr. Gamey is also of the view that the Board of the Auditor General’s Department has failed in its duties and must be dissolved.
“In this case, what is the work of the board? That board should be dissolved because they failed to do their job well. I do not think they have been fair to the country.”
Mr. Gamey served under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government as a Deputy Minister for Employment and Social Welfare from 1995 to 2001.