Case notes investigated by the Parliamentary Ombudsman
A.B. (complainant) felt aggrieved that his request for extension of service beyond retirement age was refused by the Ministry responsible for Finance, without being given a reason for such rejection. He also alleged discrimination since another officer within the same Ministry, whom he named, was given such extension.
In its comments on the complaint, the Ministry stated that complainant had submitted a request “to be engaged again as part-timer after the date of (his) pension” and not for an extension of service. The Ministry stated that it was not Government policy to re-engage personnel after retirement age unless there was expressive need for the service of the employee. In complainant’s case, the management did not express such need. Moreover, complainant had not submitted either verbally or in writing, such request through his Department, in line with existing policy, but preferred instead to deal directly with the Ministry and the political authorities. Moreover, the Department where he worked did not recommend a favourable consideration of his request.
This Office also sought clarification in respect of the public officer whom complainant had named as having been treated favourably. The Ministry explained and gave details to prove that, the situation of the other officer’s case was different. The details given, could not be communicated to complainant, because of data protection considerations. The decision in respect of this other public officer had been taken in line with Government policy in a special situation, which included a project in which the contribution of the retiring employee was in the interest of the Department where he worked. The timing, as well as the relative nature of the request was different from that of complainant.
Complainant disagreed with this explanation and expressed his readiness to confirm his statement under oath. He contended that he applied for an extension because there was an extreme need for messenger duties and he had offered to perform such duties despite that he had held a higher post. He reiterated his allegation of discrimination stating that the other employee could only perform duties pertaining to a lower salary scale than his.
The Ombudsman considered that this complaint was lodged long after the deadline of six months (imposed by the Ombudsman Act for a complaint to be lodged) from the time the complainant first had knowledge of the acts complained of. In fact the complaint was lodged around two years following his retirement and several months after the extension had been given to the other employee. As such the complaint was prescribed at law, and therefore inadmissible for formal investigation. This notwithstanding, the Office considered whether there were valid grounds for waiving such prescription.
The Ombudsman considered that:
• the Ministry had clarified its decisions in both cases under consideration and such clarifications had been communicated to complainant;
• complainant’s application was for re-engagement as a part-timer (after the date of his retirement) within the Ministry or in any department, and not for an extension;
• there was no request from his department for the need of his services after retirement age;
• the respective decisions in both cases were taken within Government policy regarding retention beyond retirement age, that is, retention is accepted if there was an expressed need for the services of a particular employee in special situations such as participation in a particular ongoing project. There was no such need in complainant’s case as was the case in respect of the other employee; and
• there were no valid grounds to challenge the explanations/reasons given by the Ministry for its decisions.
The Ombudsman therefore concluded that he could not be of further assistance to complainant and he informed complainant accordingly.
Complainant was still not happy and requested a meeting in person with the Ombudsman. During the meeting, the Ombudsman explained at length the reasoning behind the decision. He informed complainant that this Office had done all it could to help him and that no further action could be taken in his case.
The Ombudsman then closed the case.Case Studies