The option of earned leave encashment offered to central government employees as a retirement benefit has long seen the latter hoard their earned leave, which hardly works in favour of the work-life balance mantra. According to the Budget Estimates for FY19, the finance ministry has earmarked Rs 63,249 crore towards the allowances for its estimated 35 million civilian employees, up over 5% from FY17. The bulk of this amount reportedly is payouts for leave encashment.
So the Centre has now decided to introduce a new leave ethic - all permanent central government employees will now have to take at least 20 days of earned leave every year, The Business Standard reported.
The public sector banks (PSBs) had taken the lead on this front. Last October, several PSBs started sending their employees on a block of ten days leave, taking many by surprise. Now all other central government employees, too, will have to follow suit.
These employees are entitled to a block of 30 days paid leave each year, while those in the armed forces get 60 days. This is in addition to their 10 casual leaves and 19 notified holidays every year. Since the earned leave can be accumulated up to 300 days and exchanged for money at the rate of the salary level of the employee - payable on retirement - while casual leaves cannot be accumulated, many central government employees ended up availing of their earned leave only hoarding the required balance.
That's the habit that the government now wants to break. The daily added that a circular is likely to be issued soon, directing central government employees that no more than 10 earned leaves can be carried over from any calendar year. Hence, the pace of accumulating the leaves for encashment will slow down.
The changes in the leave regulations will be in accordance to the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission, which had opined against substituting leaves with cash. "The Commission recognizes that Earned Leave is, as the name suggests, earned by an employee through the services rendered. Hence, it is personal to the employee and the concept of "gifting" cannot be considered," the pay panel had said in its recommendations.