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Policy Selected: White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Service

By:   •  August 21, 2016  •  Article Review  •  2,904 Words (12 Pages)  •  1,264 Views

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Policy Selected: White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Service

Part A: Summary of the White Paper on Human Resources Management in the Public Services

The first Democratic South African Government has inherited a Public Service whose capacity to achieve its Social, Economic and Democratic goals is severely limited due to outdated and inappropriate human resources policies and practices. The White Paper on Human Resources is an attempt to provide a policy framework which will transform the current Human Resources Practices to ensure that South Africa has a Public Service which is efficient, effective and representative of all sectors of our society.

The vision  of the White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Services focuses on enabling Public Service employees to provide sustained high quality, value add service delivery to members of the public via refined and revised Human Resources Practices. The ultimate objective is to ensure the members of the Public Service fraternity have proper People Practices applicable to themselves which enable them to serve out of a genuine commitment to serving the citizens of South Africa and who want to serve rather than being forced to do so. Leadership, according to the White Paper on Public Services, is therefore a vital component in transforming the Public Service’s Human Resources capabilities.

The White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Services is governed by te principles which stem from the Constitution as well as several other White Papers inclusive of The White Papers on Transformation of the Public Service, Education and Training, Service Delivery, Affirmative Action, etc. The key theme of the White Paper on Human Resources is centered on the evolution of Human Resources initiatives to deliver on a collective ability with the resultant effect of an efficient Public Service which delivers seamless value add services.

There are several fundamental shifts in Human Resource Practices within Public Services proposed by the White Paper on Human Resources. Some of the fundamental shifts will be the increased movement of managerial accountability and responsibility from a national level to provincial level and the subsequent shift of operational management being delegated to first line leaders. To effectively manage the Human Resources elements within the Public Service, the Human Resources Plan will set out clear parameters for clearly defined roles on a National, Provincial and Operational level. The Human Resources service offering will be positioned as a service which will be able to provide professional engagements, expert advice and consulting on People related matters whilst at the same time enabling operational excellence for the administrative functions within the Public Sector.

There will also be a shift towards a service oriented culture underpinned by a competent, diverse and multi skilled workforce. Culture will play a vital role in enabling the Public Service to embrace diversity and positively encourage the move towards a representative workforce. This workforce (which extends to single parents, people from rural backgrounds, people with disabilities, etc.) will enable employees to broaden and deepen knowledge sharing and service to a diverse customer base as there will be a contribution from all sectors of society in this regard.

The culture will shift to take into consideration factors such as the increasing flexibility of the environment (internal and external), the changing operating requirements in response to the needs of the employees, citizens, as well as technology which enables increased efficiencies in certain respects. The movement towards excellence and best practices will be reinforced by rewarding employees who demonstrate outstanding holistic performance in discharging their duties. The shift will also embrace the spirit of good employee relations and collaborative relationships with key stakeholders being involved in the evolution of the Public Services Human Resources Practices.

The White Paper on Human Resources introduces new Human Resources policies, guidelines and directives which serve as a framework to enable the Public Services to be characterized by elements such as fairness, diversity, ethics and transparency. It provides direction on transforming the People Practices of the Public service by allowing for new Human Resources Practices to serve a new Public Service. In line with same, Human Resources Planning and Strategy Development is crucial to ensure future staffing requirements within the Public Sector are achieved. The workforce planning needs to take into specific consideration employment equity initiatives to ensure a representative workforce whilst still ensuring the overall achievement of the Public Sector Human Resources strategic objectives.

The White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Service emphasizes the need for the presence of written contracts of employment for all Public Sector Employees. This is important in respect of defining the terms and conditions upon which individuals are employed within the Public Sector and serves the expressed purpose of protecting the rights of all employees. This process will have to include all key stakeholders to ensure fair and equitable practices for all employees, past, present and future. The Public Sector will employ people primarily on a full time continuous basis; however there may be a need for Fixed Term Contracts as well temporary employment contracts to meet specific needs during particular periods of need. The White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Service specifically makes reference to the elimination of discriminatory practices in relation to Fixed Term and Temporary Employment Contracts.

The White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Service encourages the use of more flexible working patterns for employees of the Public Service. The use of flexi time enables the employees to manage their peaks and troughs in respect of work load more efficiently and effectively and also enables employees to be more responsive to the needs of the people whom they serve. The use of flexi time also enables employees to better structure their work time to enable adequate time to explore job sharing, developmental opportunities and cross functional areas to ensure integration of service delivery. Flexitime supports Talent Management and Talent Development within the Public Service environments.

The White Paper on Human Resources advocates the Public Sector as an Employer of Choice which must attract talent from diverse backgrounds, all of whom have intentions of building careers within the Public Services. This will be enabled by revised Talent Acquisition, Talent Development, Talent Management and Performance Management Practices. Due to the revised and proposed Human Resources practices, the barriers of entry into and advancement within the Public Services must be removed. This will enable increased competition throughout all levels within the Public Sector giving rise to employee driven and employee owned initiatives to ensure lifelong learning, development and outstanding performance as part of their individual growth and development pathways.

The White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Service strongly campaigns for the Talent Acquisition and Talent Management Practices to be underpinned by competition. Competition can be open, targeted or internal within the Public sector. The intent of completion is to ensure the most suitable candidate from the widest pool of talent within South Africa is identified, to ensure all members of society have access to the Public Sector as a potential employer, encourage representation from all areas of society and further ensure equal opportunities for elevation are provided to all employees of public service.

Due to certain members of society being previously marginalized, there was a knock on effect on these individuals in respect of opportunities to attain educational qualifications. As a result of same, selection criterion for available opportunities within the Public Service will take into consideration employment equity and transformation. The criterion for selection will be based on the competencies required to perform a role rather than a singular focus on academic qualifications.

Recruitment initiatives will be designed and rolled out to extend the reach of the Public Sector as an employer of choice to all citizens of the country. The recruitment strategies will specifically focus on reaching a potential workforce who are representative of all categories of society. The recruitment initiative is exceptionally important in light of the goal of transformation within the Public Sector. Recruitment strategies will have to work within a particular financial framework, hence their strategies have to be creative and cost effective in nature.

The entry requirements for employment into the Public Sector are restricted to applicants who are South African citizens, between the ages of sixteen to sixty years of age. Entry requirements will be guided by the overall Labour Legislation applicable in South Africa. The White Paper on Human Resources in the Public Service does not encourage the use of health checks unless they form part of the inherent requirements of the role for which applicants have applied.

In instances where there is a critical portfolio and the Recruitment process has been unsuccessful in sourcing an ideal candidate to fulfill the requirements of the role, succession management and placement become important. The Talent Plan and overall Human Resources Strategy will enable placement to be practiced in instances where the ideal incumbent has not been sourced via conventional recruitment practices. There must be evidence of a thorough talent acquisition process followed and the placement process must be just and fair in the context of placing a candidate into the role.


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