Just over three months ahead of the assembly polls, the Punjab government on Tuesday decided to regularise 30,000 employees hired on contract, ad hoc, daily wage, temporary or work charge basis by the education, health, medical education and local bodies departments.
In another significant decision, over 15,000 contractual employees hired through “private outsourcing agencies or contractors”, will now become “government contractual employees”— a move that will keep the door open for the outsourced staff to become regular employees later.
The decision taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal comes into force with immediate effect, said a government spokesperson.
“The outsourced staff will now be eligible for benefits available to other contractual employees,” the spokesperson said.
In another populist step, the government decided to protect the existing salary of the regularised staff. This means if the fixed salary after being regularised is lower than the present salary of the contractual employee, he/she will continue to get the higher last salary drawn for the next three years.
The employees to be regularised belong to Group A, B, C and D services who have completed three years of continuous service, fulfilled educational qualifications and age limit at the time of initial appointment and were recruited in a “transparent manner”.
The cabinet nod is significant in the backdrop of legal remembrance (LR) cautioning against regularising these employees. The LR had told the government that the law proposed to regularise the employees should not amount to “backdoor entry” or cause “injustice to those who seek front-door entry”.
Sources say shortly the government will promulgate an ordinance to give legal sanctity to this mass-scale regularisation drive by keeping it out of the ambit of judicial scrutiny.
This pre-poll bonanza will benefit around 11,000 employees of education, 7,000 of health, 4,000 of local government and 700 of the medical education departments, besides employees of various boards, corporations and societies in the state.
The immediate financial impact of this decision will be over `200 crore as the government pays only basic salary to regular employees for first three years. After three years (2019), when these employees will be eligible for regular pay scale, the annual financial liability will shoot up to around `1,000 crore.
“We are working out the exact financial impact of these decisions,” government sources say.
On Monday, the cabinet-sub-committee chaired by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had cleared the proposal. The government claimed that it had also regularised 45,000 contractual employees during its 2007-2012 tenure.
“…these contractual employees…had been working diligently…They have gained precious experience which cannot be allowed to go in vain,” the government official said justifying the decision.
Better late than never: Amarinder
Chandigarh: Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh hailed the regularisation of contractual employees by the Punjab government. “Better late than never,” said Amarinder in a statement issued here, describing the state cabinet decision as long overdue. “I had promised to regularise all contractual employees as soon as I come to power, but I am happy to see that they have been given their due just a few days before Diwali.”