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Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs

The Government Employees Act, No. 70/1996

An Introduction

In August 1995 the Minister of Finance appointed a committee to review the government}s personnel policy and, in that context, review the Civil Service Act of 1954. The committee completed a draft bill for a new Act early in 1996, after having consulted unions of public employees throughout the review process. The bill was passed into law as the Government Emloyees Act on 11 June, 1996, replacing the 1954 Civil Service Act.

The principal aim of the new Act is to bring the hiring and job conditions for public employees into line with those prevailing in the private sector. The lifetime job guarantee in the public sector has gradually been reduced in recent years and the new Act eliminates it altogether for employees hired after the Act went into force.

A new provision, not included in the earlier 1954 Act, stipulates that agency managers are now given increased flexibility in awarding pay increases to employees on the basis of their work and skill contribution. This provision means that pay conditions will be made more flexible and will no longer be rigidly based on wage agreements with unions. The provision is a part of a wider design to give government managers increased freedom to manage in return for increased responsi-bility for their agency}s performance. The provision should in turn benefit employees since pay increases over wage agreement levels can now be negotiated on an individual basis.

The Act spells out the rights and duties of government employees, such as pay days, holidays, sick leave, relations with superiors and conditions for dismissal. The Act divides government staff into two groups, civil servants and all other employees. The term "civil servant" will henceforth mainly apply to higher-echelon employees who will be appointed for a fixed period not exceeding five years. All other employees are appointed either temporarily or indefinitely with a three-month notice period. Lifetime appointments will no longer be made. The Act is divided into four main parts:

Part I deals with the areas where the Act applies and it sets out rules on appointment, hiring and duties that apply to all government employees.

Part II deals with those employees to whom the term "civil servant" shall apply, especially with reference to Paragraph 20 of the Constitution. This refers mostly to higher-echelon public servants and employees in security services who henceforth will be appointed for a fixed term of employment.

Part III contains provisions for government employees other than civil servants. It lays down rules on hiring, termination, the right to bargain collectively and to strike.

Part IV contains miscellaneous provisions, amongst others a temporary provision where those government employees who were appointed or hired on the basis of the 1954 Civil Service Act shall retain their acquired rights.


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