Uncertainty has reigned among public sector workers following the rejection of the Civil Service Law that was issued in March 2015 by presidential decree.
The law, which overhauled the system of salaries and bonuses across state institutions and authorities, was rejected by the newly convened House of Representatives after it was presented for review among all those decrees invested with the force of law that were issued during the parliament’s absence.
Sources in the Ministry of Agriculture, who requested to remain anonymous, said public sector employees lost most of their leftover credit for annual vacations due to the change in the government’s policy. “Even my salary became unstable,” said a source.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decision on Wednesday that made provision for public sector employees to receive their salaries according to the Administrative Employees Law no. 47/1978 and officially suspended the Civil Service Law.
In a previous statement to Daily News Egypt, a human rights lawyer at Alhaqaneya Law Firm who requested to remain anonymous detailed the scope of President Al-Sisi’s legislative authority. While he can no longer issue decrees invested with the full force of law, he can issue decree to be confirmed by the House of Representatives.
“No one told us how we will receive our salaries for February. We don’t understand how they can change such an important system twice in less than one year,” the source added.
Despite official calls from the government for parliament to approve the decree, the parliament rejected the decree last month with a majority of 332 votes out of 468 votes.
The Civil Service Law was the only decree rejected by the parliament among more than 300 decrees.
The rejection came as a surprise, as the assembly had garnered a reputation for being pro-government. Following the decision, Al-Sisi criticised the MPs’ decision, saying that the law’s aim was to reform the public sector.
The Civil Service Law presented a new system for salaries and stipulates that incentives should be approved by the prime minister as a fixed percentage of the total salary every year, according to the different positions.
The law also stipulated that fixed salaries contribute 80% of the employee’s income, while bonuses are awarded according to the employee’s performance, rather than seniority. Prior to the law, 80% of public employees’ wages were constituted by bonuses while 20% constituted a fixed salary.
Annual bonuses were also cut from 10% to 5%. State-owned companies and economic entities are not subject to the law.
Public sector employees and representatives of general and independent trade unions criticised the application of the law, saying it aims to cut their salaries and reduce the number of government employees in efforts to trim the budget deficit.
Government expenditure on incentives and wages increased from EGP 83bn per year during fiscal year (FY) 2009/2010 to EGP 218bn in the new FY 2015/2016 budget, according to the Ministry of Finance.