From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday approved a 14-day paternity leave to allow fathers properly bond with the newborn baby or adopted one.
The paternity leave is for men in the federal civil service.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the Council’s weekly meeting which held at the First Lady’s Conference Room, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, who was flanked by the Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, explained that the paternity leave was approved for men when their wives deliver new babies.
She said that the bonding was important to help the newly born or adopted baby properly bond with the father at the early stage as the baby bonds with the others.
According to her, “We’ve also gotten approval to include paternity leave. This is something that is new. And this is something that the unions in the service asked that we include, and luckily, we’ve been able to include it.
“We’ve also been able to ensure that leave now is calculated based on working days, not on calendar days, that also has been approved. We also have introduced the transition from paper service to a digital service. So these are some of the new things that are in the new PSR that has just been approved by the federal executive council.”
Asked those who are qualified to benefit from it, the Head of Civil Service said, “Paternity leave is the leave that is approved for men, when their spouses or wives have given birth to a newborn baby, or if the husband and wife have just adopted a baby of less than four months, then the man is entitled to paternity leave of about 14 days.
“So, that is what has been approved for men so that the men and their babies also can bond well together. It’s important because we want the young children and the youth really to bond properly with their fathers, just as they bond well with their mothers.
“So, this is the first time, that has been approved now, for men to bond at the early stages, especially at the early stages of a child’s life, that is when it’s very important for this bonding to take place.”
Yemi-Esan also said that Council approved the revised Public Service Rules (PSR), which was revised last in 2008.
She however explained that the revised PSR did not accommodate the removal of the dichotomy between Higher National Diploma (HND) holders and Degree holders, adding that work was still ongoing on the removal of the dichotomy.
The Head of Service said, “We presented today (Wednesday) the memo on the revised of the Public Service Rules. We are all aware that the Public Service Rules are all important tool in the public service, it’s what governs the the actions of public servants at work.
“The last time these rules were revised was in 2008. And so, we recognised that the revision was long overdue. And so we put everything that we got into it to ensure that we did the revision.
“These rules ideally are supposed to be revised every five years. But this has taken more than that for us to get the revised PSR 2021. In doing the revision, we had a lot of stakeholder engagements, we asked there was a circular that was put out for call from different sectors and from various groups that wanted amendments to the PSR.
“We set up different committees to look at what we got. And finally a technical committee that consisted of permanent secretaries serving and retired, and directors were put together to look at the zero draft that we got. After they reviewed it, we took it to the National Council on Establishment. At the National Council on Establishment, the essence of the PSR was approved. However, there were some revisions that were supposed to be made before making it public.
“Those revisions have been done. And so we brought it to the federal executive council this morning for approval, and we got approval for it. Some of the revisions that we made, the first thing was that the 2008 version had 16 chapters, the 2021 version now has 17 chapters in it.
“The chapter on APER (Annual Performance Evaluation Review), and promotions have been replaced by a new chapter on the new performance management system that has been introduced into the public service. There is also a chapter that has also been reinvigorated the chapter on training. This is an all important chapter because of the importance that training has in the public service.
“We also have a new chapter on virtual meetings, you recall that there was a policy document that was approved by the federal executive council. So we put some of the guidelines from that policy document into the new public service rules. And so we have accepted virtual meetings as a tool to be used in service mouth. And there’s some guidelines there.
On whether the revised Public Service Rules covers the removal of dichotomy between HND and Degree holders, she said, “On the discrepancies between HND, and degree programme, its in the scheme of service that this will be reflected not in the PSR. It’s the scheme of service that describes entry points and things like that.
“And currently we’re reviewing the scheme of service, it’s just that we did this first, and then we’ll do the scheme of service. So that’s where that will be reflected.”
Fielding question on the difference between the new performance management system and the APER, she said, “we all agree that the APER system has become obsolete. And because now nobody looks at performance, the supervisor just calls and gives everybody a uniform mark of 10 out of 10.
“But the new performance management system is based on everybody’s targets, you would look at the objectives of your ministry or your parastatal. And from the broad objective of your ministry, you will determine your targets, which must be related to the objective of your ministry. And then you discuss it with your supervisor, there must be an agreement between the officer and the officer superior that yes, these are the targets that you’re going to work on in the first year.
“And based on that there will be quarterly appraisals. Have you met your targets? If you haven’t met your targets, why haven’t you met your targets? What is it that you need, that will enable you to meet your target? What training?
“Even sometimes you can recommend the training that you need to help you to do your work better. So it’s a completely different thing. officers from the Office of the Head of Service have been going around to ministries to describe this process, and also to teach officers on how to set their own objectives. So I’m sure they will come to your ministry very soon.
“But we’ve been around about 12 ministries as at to date, teaching them and at the end of the day, everybody is expected o submit their own targets so that we are sure that civil servants know what this entails.
“But right now, there is a transition period. We cannot transit everybody at once. We have pilots ministries that we’re working on that for 2022 we will not use APER anymore. And gradually we’ll just continue until the APER becomes completely extinct.”