Two separate arms of Government have come forward to defend a controversial decision to send a top civil servant on leave.
But it appears there is no chance of former permanent secretary Seibert Frederick returning to the public service after being given notice of compulsory retirement at the end of his leave.
In separate statements, the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Roy Morris and Head of the Public Service Dr. Louis Woodroffe sought to explain the circumstances surrounding the decision to send Frederick on leave.
The statements released by both Morris and Louis took aim at an article published Monday in the Daily Nation which, according to Morris, could lead Barbadians to believe that the decision was intended to punish Frederick, “for some breach of rules of the public service”.
Instead, Morris said: “PS Frederick, a veteran of the public service, had accumulated 198 days (approximately six months) of vacation leave that was still to be taken, having not taken any holiday for the past three years. Additionally, the Ministry of the Public Service has no record of Mr Frederick having applied for a deferment of leave as required.
“In any event, since he will reach the age of 67 years on September 30, 2019, when compulsory retirement will kick in, the ministry had no choice but to ask Mr Frederick to take the outstanding leave from Monday May 13, 2019, in order that all time owed would be exhausted by the effective date of his retirement.”
Government’s decision to place Frederick on leave became controversial, when a memo to staff was circulated on social media in which he indicated he felt disrespected by the manner in which the matter was handled.
Frederick’s memo read in part: “The information was a real shocker to me as permanent secretary, since it did not give me time to tell my fellow workers or attend to any matters on my desk.
“The manner in which it was done was downright disrespectful.”
Morris responded by saying that prior to being placed on leave, the Director General in the Ministry of the Public Service Gail Atkins discussed the issue by telephone with Frederick.
The Press Secretary said: “Additionally, last Friday, prior to dispatching the letter directly to Mr Frederick by messenger, out of respect, the next most senior officer in the Ministry of the Public Service in the absence of the Director General also discussed the issue with Mr Frederick on the telephone, explaining that based on instructions, deferment at this stage was not an option.
“Every effort was made by officials at Ministry to honor the exemplary service and seniority of Mr. Frederick as a public officer for the past four decades, and to ensure that as an individual he was shown the respect that should be accorded every officer in the Public Service.
“In the final analysis though, it has to be recognized that for the Public Service to function effectively and fairly, order has to be a hallmark of the way each officer performs his or her duties, regardless of that person’s status.”
In a separate statement, Head of the Public Service Dr Louis Woodrooffe argued that Frederick had in fact submitted an application for retiring awards on April 26 this year.
Frederick later proceeded on leave, which is due to him until September 29 this year, the statement said.
“This period of leave will be followed by his compulsory retirement from the Public Service” on September 30,” the statement added.
“Mr. Frederick is therefore on pre-retirement leave.”