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07.05.2020 Opinion

Unfair Market Premium To Health Sector Support Staff: An Open Letter To His Excellency The President And The Fair Wages And Salaries Commission

By Evans Akwasi Appiah
Unfair Market Premium To Health Sector Support Staff: An Open Letter To His Excellency The President And The Fair Wages And Salaries Commission
LISTEN MAY 7, 2020

The Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) implemented in 2010 was to regulate the payment of public service workers especially those under article 190 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

Ghana's Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) was introduced as an attempt to establish and administer compensation for public service workers with comparable qualifications and experiences taking into account the different tasks they perform. (Ghana Business & Finance, 2011).

Despite its implementation a decade ago, there are still challenges confronting the pay policy making it unfair to some public sector workers.

A typical example is the Market Premium (MP). What then was the purpose of the Market Premium?

As defined by James Chen (April 26, 2020), the Director of Trading and Investment content at Investopedia, a market premium is a difference between the expected return on a market portfolio and the risk-free rate.

The purpose of the market premium was to ensure the health and education sector workers bridge the risk associated with their duties.

Since its implementation in 2011, the market premium of health sector support staff has been nothing to write home about.

The market premium does not commensurate with the respective current base pay of health sector support staff.

One may ask, who are the support staff. The support staff is those other than the clinical staff within the health sector. They play critical roles in ensuring quality healthcare is delivered to clients that come to the health facilities.

Despite Fair Wages and Salaries Commission being there to ensure equitable placement and fair payment of government workers, their operations are not matching with their name.

In November 2011, the National Labour Commission (NLC) ruled in a compulsory arbitration that the market premium of Ghana Medical Association (GMA) members should be a percentage of their basic salaries.

After a year of implementation, the government unilaterally decided to make it a fixed figure contrary to the ruling of the NLC prompting the Ghana Medical Association to issue a warning to government in 2017 that they will embark on a series of actions if the NLC decision is not adhered to.

Clinical staff within the health sector have their market premium being a percentage of their basic pay. This makes their market premium increase as and when there are upward adjustments in salaries or their grade changes.

But can that be said of the support staff? A big No. Their market premium has been stagnant and fixed at a rate that can't even buy a chicken tail. This is so pathetic that something must be done about it immediately.

It is no evidence that the Health Service Workers Union (HSWU) in September 2019 during a cleanup exercise to commemorate the 2019 HSWU week at Kwesimintsim Hospital in Takoradi expressed concerns about the meagre market premium of their members calling on the Ministry of Finance and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission as a matter of urgency respond to and act on the wrongful calculations of their members using the 2012 base pay.

The Western Regional Industrial Relations Officer, Mr. Jerry Detse Mensah-Pah said that the action is a gross disregard for the dictates of the Single Spine Pay Policy.

"This in effect means that members of the union continue to receive a premium that does not commensurate with their respective current base pay", he added.

Aside from the unfair placement of support staff on the Single Spine Pay Policy, staff under this category are also paid poorly when it comes to the market premium. This is a serious issue that needs to be looked at.

Despite clinical staff receiving at least 58% k maximum 120%) of their current basic pay, support staff receive 15% (maximum 20%) of their 2012 base pay which is laughable at the least.

Support staff are equally as important as the clinical staff and should be treated with all the needed respect as offered the clinical staff. Their absence will break the chain of quality healthcare.

I, therefore, call on His Excellency the President, the Sector Minister in charge of Finance and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission as matter of urgency to look into this matter and as soon as possible implement fairly what is due to the health sector support staff because their roles are very critical and vital in ensuring quality healthcare is delivered in Ghana.

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