Flexible arrival and departure times in civil service

RCSC says it decentralized human resource functions and heads of the respective agencies will be held accountable

Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC)

LHAKPA TSHERING | Thimphu

While some civil servants extend their service hours beyond the working time, many do not follow the office timings strictly, which has direct implications for service delivery.

It was learned that flexible timing is a common practice among unpunctual civil servants in government offices and they show no signs of kicking the habit despite attempts to correct them.

For instance, the reporting time is 9-am, but they are allowed to clock in by 10-am and even after. And incidents of civil and public servants leaving to pick/drop their children at schools are still a pertinent issue in the government offices.

Some ministries and government agencies even issued warnings/notifications to their staff to adhere to office timings and tasked the respective head of the departments and divisions to observe the timing policy.

However, given that many seniors including heads are not punctual, this has become the most arduous task as they do not comply with rules, and they do not demand explanations or hesitate to exercise disciplinary action against somebody for being late to the office regularly or frequently.

Many civil servants say that it is mostly top executives, new employees, and supporting staff who are punctual. “They (top executives) should inspire other employees to follow their lead,” said a civil servant.

Some say that sometimes, being late to the office should be blamed for bad traffic conditions and even a personal urgent reason while, on the other hand, these complacent people have resulted in a delay in timely public service delivery.

Many feel only self-discipline can support the steps and rules being made by the government. “They should conduct surprise checking and inquiries,” said a private employee. 

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) in an email interview said it has already decentralized human resource (HR) functions and empowered every agency – ministries, autonomous, dzongkhags, and thromdes.

It stated that for that purpose, heads in a civil service agency including secretaries, director-generals/directors, and chiefs are directly responsible, among others, for the punctuality of their employees.

“If any employees tend to be unpunctual, instead of RCSC going after every civil servant (around 31,000) it is the responsibility of the respective heads of the respective agencies for taking appropriate HR actions,” it stated.

Despite RCSC in October having notified cancellation of winter timing for civil servants, it was learned that the office timing has not been strictly followed. “The rules are not monitored and strictly implemented in offices. Many continue to leave early,” said one.

However, the commission says it has not received any report of non-adherence to its notification for winter-timing.

For those who have a habit of arriving late to the office or leaving home early regularly without a valid reason or approval, RCSC says the heads of the agencies can manage such flexibility within the delegated authority of the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations (BCSR) 2018.

And there are also incidents of civil/public servants taking leave on working days to part-take in archery competitions.

Meanwhile, there are countries where staff members are marked present for only half the day if they arrived late and did not work overtime to match the time of delay while also conducting surprise checks by their supervisors. 

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