Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister Maurice Suite said yesterday a revised arrangement for the hiring and dismissal of employees, personal to the minister, is being considered and would be taken to Cabinet.
The sexual harassment issue involving Carrie-Ann Moreau and former minister Darryl Smith has caused the Board of Permanent Secretaries in conjunction with the CPO to take a new look at the contract for employees, hired on the recommendation of ministers with a view to affording some protection of rights of the employee.
Speaking at yesterday’s news conference at the Attorney General’s Office in Port of Spain, Suite said there were two matters surrounding this issue.
One was the summary dismissal of the employee and the another was the allegation of sexual misconduct.
He said Carrie-Ann Moreau fell in the category of staff personal to the minister, which including persons such as drivers and personal assistants.
They are selected by the minister and hired on the minister’s request, but paid by the State.
“There is no recruitment process or evaluation process for the hiring of those individuals,” he said.
Once such an employee comes into office, they are given a contract, normally for three years, or until the end of the term of the minister, whichever is shorter, Suite said.
“Once the minister is dismissed or resigns, the term of office of these employees automatically comes to an end,” he noted.
He said the practice in the hiring and removal of these persons is that “they come through the back door and leave through the back door” — that is at the request of the minister.
“They don’t report to the Permanent Secretary and the PS does not do a performance appraisal or evaluate their performance in any way. And if the minister chooses to end their employment, their employment is terminated,” and terminal benefits, based on their contract are paid,” Suite said.
“That has been the normal practice. In this (Carrie-Ann Moreau) instance, you had someone questioning that practice, taking it to court and there was also the element of sexual harassment allegations,” he said.
He said coming out of the legal advice and the experience at the court with this matter, it called in question the current practice.
Consequently, he said there were discussions at the Board of the Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department on a need to address such a situation. He said the CPO, the employer for persons in contract, was also engaged.
“And coming out of that the CPO would have looked at the contract offered to those individuals with a view to looking to see how to balance those rights and expectations that come under industrial practice, coupled with the way the persons were brought on board and the current practice.
“The CPO would have developed a policy which has to be put to the Minister of Finance, who deals with terms and conditions of employment, and once there is a revised policy, it would be taken to Cabinet,” Suite said.