The Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) Report was out in the afternoon and simultaneously the work force in sarkari establishments went into jubilation. Calculators were brought out and the humble pay clerk in the office became the most sought after person to facilitate estimation of how much bucks would flow in whose kitty. Euphoria of this kind is a regular occurrence after announcement of pay benefits but is short-lived till the actual calculations are made. The rapid rise in market prices and also the amazing growth of salaries in private sector soon overtake the government pay scales.
On this occasion the media is all agog with the overestimated projections of benefits and for days together it goes on repeating the imagined negative impact on the national economy. The media forgets the fact that journalists also look forward for wage increase and as compared to the increase in every other sector the Government servants get a modest jump in pay every ten years . It is also forgotten that the economic impact on budget which is sought to be over hyped is the only decadal benefit offered to millions of families of government servants who are also fellow countrymen and have a right to share the national wealth.
A quick glance at the report and projected pay scales (now referred to as pay bands) shows that on an average a government servant would get additional financial benefits which would be in the range of 40% of the existing basic pay. Even the top salaries of Secretary in Govt. of India and Cabinet Secretary which appear to be quite high in real terms are likely to increase to that extent only.
The real indicators of improvements in working conditions as reflected in the report of the Pay Commission are the measures suggested to take care of female employees, group D employees, physically challenged employees and the pensioners. The Commission has also suggested improvements in the allowance and compensation packages for army men. For healthcare it has proposed Health Insurance Schemes at places where CGHS facilities are not available.
For the women employees the facility of maternity leave is extended to six months against existing three months and concept of flexible working hours has also been brought in. The suggestions if accepted would certainly be considered as a very progressive gesture on part of a caring employer.
In respect of the lowest paid employees presently classified as Group D employees the Commission has suggested their upward mobility to Group C in case they fulfill the educational qualifications . Those who do not possess the requisite qualifications are proposed to be trained to rise to Group C in due course of time. The Commission seeks to transform them into multi skilled persons. Attention of this nature on workforce on the lowest rung of ladder was also long overdue.
For the physically challenged employees the concept of flexible working hours has been introduced. The Commission has also proposed measures which would facilitate their access to good quality aids and appliance which would help them overcome the respective disabilities in a better manner. Other benefits which have been proposed are higher rate of transport allowance and subsidy in the loan for purchase of car @ 4%.
Retiring Govt. employees can now expect a higher quantum of gratuity (an amount equal to 15 Months emoluments at the retirement stage). The ceiling of Rs. 3.5 Lakhs has been proposed to be raised to Rs. 10 Lakhs. Another innovative measure suggested for helping the retired employees is increase in pension at various stages between 80 to 100 years of age. It is proposed to increase the benefit @ 20% for 80 year olds and thereafter @ 20% for each slot of subsequent 5 years. This has been justified on grounds of increased expenses on medical facilities in old age and is a very well thought gesture.
For improving the morale of army men additional compensation in case of casualty has been proposed. The Commission has also suggested additional pay for those in line of service.
As a part of system improvement the daily allowance for officers on tour has been made more realistic so that the govt servants on duty can stay in comfort. Officers availing LTC have been permitted air travel if they are entitled for the same for official tours. Leave encashment procedure for LTC has also been liberalized.
The major indicator of structural reforms made by the Commission is reduction in the number of pay scales . The Commission has also introduced the concept of pay band by clubbing a number of scales into a long running scale with grade pay as mark of identification of seniority. The Commission expects to iron out several anomalies by introduction of this concept. Another new concept introduced by Commission is concept of differential increment rate based on performance. Unlike other measures this suggestion may not be met with enthusiasm since performance appraisal in public services is still a grey area which is not yet truly modernized.