The Public Service Commissioner has warned State Owned Enterprises on misinterpreting the State of Emergency Orders over working conditions for all Government agencies.

Failure to comply will attract a penalty of $5,000, says Chair for the Public Service Commission, Lauano Vaosa Epa.

Last week the Samoa National Provident Fund management, informed their staff in an internal memo dated 31 of January, obtained by Radio Polynesia the lockdown days are not considered public holidays and therefore the staff is not entitled to ordinary salary.

The SNPF management however approved that all staff will be paid normal hours during emergency lockdown with special working conditions; any approved overseas and special leave during this period will still be effective; and that maternity/paternity leave on any lockdown date is dedicated from approved leave entitlement.

Furthermore the SNPF says given the expectancy of high loan requests the new working hours are from 8:30-6pm with no overtime payment.

Yesterday, PSC reminded all State Owned Enterprises that in line with State of Emergency Order 66, the authority to determine conditions in which employees are to continue working during the State of Emergency, remains with the PSC.

The conditions set by the Commission applies to all Government Ministries, State Owned Enterprises, Constitutional Authorities and Statutory Bodies; With specific reference to Section 14 of the SOE Order 66 – Special Powers of Government Chief Executive Officers, under the State of Emergency, all CEOs are empowered to exercise their statutory functions, duties and powers provided under any legislation or administrative function ‘for the implementation of the Sector Preparedness and Response Matrix Consolidated for CoronaVirus Pandemic’ (“Response Matrix”).

Please take note there is no specific mention of determining working conditions, as that is the delegated mandate of the PSC under any prevailing SOE Orders;

The SOE Order supersedes the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013, and other Public Body enabling legislations; As per Section 16 of the Orders, failure to comply will attract a penalty of $5000 for an organisation, corporation, or similar such legal entity.

General Managers and Chief Executive Officers who may wish to discuss further conditions and alternative working arrangements with the PSC and Ministry for Public Enterprises, can do so.

Working hours for the government is 9am to 3pm.