State secretary wants to put more civil servants on fixed-term contracts

State Secretary Taimar Peterkop has proposed significantly expanding the circle of civil servants who would be on fixed-term employment contracts. The proposal concerns the middle managers of virtually all ministries and public authorities.

Last October, the Ministry of Justice sent a draft law amending the Public Service Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act to an approval round. The aim of the Ministry of Justice then was to make the Civil Service Act, which has been in force for more than eight years, more flexible as regards competition, by amending the law.

"The bill aims to make the regulation of competitions less bureaucratic for the authority and easier for the official, allowing the replacement of the temporarily absent official to continue in the position without passing the competition in a situation where the person to be replaced does not return," the Ministry of Justice noted.

Of the proposals made, Peterkop's feedback stands out, in which he allows the draft to be approved only if the comments and suggestions made by him are taken into account.

The most fundamental of these is Proposal 11, in which the State Secretary proposes significantly expanding the range of civil servants whose contracts should be fixed-term.

Five-year employment contracts

The Civil Service Act currently states that an official is appointed for an indefinite period, except in exceptional cases. Exceptions include the State Secretary himself, as well as the secretaries of the ministry, the deputy secretaries, the director of the state chancellery, and the heads of government agencies - all of whom are appointed for five years.

The State Secretary proposes to extend the list of officials appointed for a fixed term and to include in the list the heads of the units directly subordinate to the above-mentioned senior managers, who will be appointed for a term of five years.

Put simply, this means proposing existing open-ended contracts for middle managers in the public sector permanent be made fixed-term. Every five years, a competitive process would be held for the position, where, of course, the current manager will have the opportunity to run and be elected if successful.

At the same point, Peterkop proposed the establishment of uniform requirements and principles for the selection, evaluation and development of the heads of units directly subordinate to them, similarly to senior managers.

"The introduction of the fixed-term employment not only for senior civil servants but also for directors of their immediate subordinates and the establishment of uniform requirements and selection, evaluation and development principles will make the rotation system, which has been relatively modest, more efficient," Peterkop said.

Peterkop says he wants to change the situation where the middle manager is sitting for decades and the arrival of new and perhaps more capable people is being blocked.

Several ministries support the proposals

Peterkop's proposal is also supported by several ministries.

In his opinion, the Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) writes: "We propose to include in the draft the introduction of a five-year term of office for heads of ministries. The amendment supports career opportunities and rotation fatigue or even health problems. "

The Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) also takes essentially the same position, proposing to amend the current law so that in addition to the head of a government agency, the principle of a fixed-term employment contract also extends to "his deputy and the head of a government department".

The support also came from the Ministry of the Environment, although it is true with the signature of the previous Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder (Center). He also considered that five-year fixed-term employment contracts should be concluded both for the heads of the departments of the ministries and for the deputy director-general of the government agency.

Who would be affected by the change?

Currently, 217 middle managers work in the ministries, whose average length of service in the same position is 4.5 years. 66 middle managers (30 percent) have held one position for more than five years, of which 28 employees (12 percent) for more than ten years.

There are 578 middle managers in offices, inspectorates and other government agencies, with an average length of service of 4.2 years. 208 middle managers (36 percent) have held one position for more than five years, 38 (seven percent) of them for more than 10 years.

In addition, there are 43 people serving as Deputy Directors-General in government agencies, with an average length of service of 4.1 years. 12 deputies (28 percent) have held one position for more than five years, seven of them (28 percent) have held one position for more than 10 years.

However, the number of middle managers working in the same position for a long time has decreased in recent years due to the restructuring of four government agencies.

Read the article at ERR.