Saturday, 9 November 2019

COUNCIL WORKER SENT ON LEAVE FOR THREE YEARS


A Bulawayo City Council worker has probably made history by accumulating 5 387 hours of overtime after an anomaly saw him working extra hours than he was stipulated for 25 years.

The worker, Mr Lizwelethu Ncube, who is employed as a clerical assistant has been working a 44-hour week instead of a 39 hours 10 minutes week as from October 1993, with the local authority only discovering the irregularity last year.

According to a council confidential report, the local authority was left with the prospect of having to compensate the worker for his incurred overtime, but instead opted that he takes 1 036 vacation leave days. Considering that a working week comprises five days a week, the 1 036 leave days translate to 260 days in a year,  meaning Mr Ncube will go on vacation leave for a grand total of three years nine months.

“Mr Ncube joined BCC on 11 October 1983 as a labourer, he was promoted from labourer on a 44-hour (five-day) working week to clerical assistant on a 39 hours 10 minutes working week with effect from 1 October 1993. He had been working for 44 hours, five days a week from 1 October 1993, to 19 April 2018 when the error was discovered.

“The staff member has been obliged to work 44 hours per five-day week as his job was strategic as it entailed the manning of the front office which was pivotal to the various operations. Following his promotion there was an omission of aligning his working hours resulting in the member of staff working overtime of 4 hours 50 minutes per week from 1 October 1993 to 19 April 2018,” reads part of the report.

However, the local authority escaped the burden of making monetary compensation to the aggrieved worker after noting that the worker was not in a grade that could have financial compensation for incurred overtime.

“Mr Ncube was in Division C, his compensation would not be monetary but he would be credited with vacation leave days.

“It was therefore resolved to recommend that Mr Ncube be compensated his overtime hours worked totalling 5 387,85 hours by crediting him with 1 036 days as per council conditions of service which state that an assistant be credited with vacation leave days,” reads the report.

Sunday News last Friday managed to trace Mr Ncube to his work station at the Mzilikazi Council Workshop. The 56-year-old is dedicated to his work as the news crew found him engrossed with his duties oblivious of the fact that it was 1.25pm, where he was supposed to be on lunch.

Questioned on the issue, Mr Ncube said he was also surprised when he was told that he had been working overtime.

He revealed that all that he focused on was dedication to his employer and furthering his responsibilities.

“To be honest I was also surprised when I was informed of the anomaly. I am just one person who loves my job, I have served BCC for the past 36 years and I give it my all in what I do. After they informed me of the issue, I was informed that it is now being handled from head office, I am yet to be informed of the outcome but whatever the outcome I will continue working hard for my employer,” he said.

On whether he would take the 1 036 vacation leave days, Mr Ncube said he would prefer monetary compensation, however, he would wait to hear the outcome of the issue.

Commenting on the issue, a labour expert, Mr Davies Ndumiso Sibanda said the employee got “a more than a fair deal”, noting that according to labour laws any grievance should be looked at within 24 months.

“The employee should actually be thanking his employer because according to the law, BCC was not obligated to compensate him since this is a grievance outside the 24-month bracket.

“The truth of the matter is that the employer might face a huge challenge if auditors note this as they will have to explain that they took the humane route as opposed to what is prescribed by the law,” said Mr Sibanda. Sunday News

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