The Office of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, in an official legal advice, has said the University of Education Winneba, (UEW) acted correctly and lawfully in its directive to the school’s Registrar to proceed on his accumulated five years leave.
The otherwise harmless directive from the Chairman of the UEW Governing Council, Nana Ofori Ansah I, to the Registrar, Paul Osei-Barima, to proceed on his accumulated leave degenerated into a tensed situation which nearly affected the peace of the school when the directive was asked to be disregarded.
After the directive to the Registrar, the Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum , through the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), gave a counter directive to the management of the UEW, asking the Registrar to remain in office.
The situation got volatile to an extent that the Municipal Security Head and Chief Executive of the Effutu Municipal Assembly was compel to step in and warn that the continuous stay on the Registrar was becoming problematic.
Godfed Yeboah Dame, in a document signed on June 8, 2022 under the heading “REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION AND LEGAL ADVICE”, said the Registrar, Paul Osei-Barima, being a Public Servant working in a public institution cannot waive his annual leave and that legally, that attempt would be null and void because going on an annual leave is a legal obligation rather than a voluntary and optional adventure.
The Attorney-General was stating the legal advice in response to letter from GTEC seeking a legal opinion on the concept of accumulated leave for public servants and as to whether that can be forfeited if not sourced or otherwise.
On the same subject matter, the Attorney-General’s Office had received a letter from the UEW, in which the Board Chairman, Nana Ofori Ansah I sought advice on the interpretation and legal opinion on section of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) in relation to accumulated leave and other related matters.
Nana Ofori Ansah’s specific plea for interpretation was on whether a worker who has not taken annual leave over a period of 5 years can be compelled by his employer to take the accumulated leave.
It was also to seek advice on whether such a worker can take money for Air Tickets and Per Diem as part of the accumulated leave package and still refuse to embark or proceed on such leave.
The Attorney-General, in response, was clear that “a worker who has not taken his/her annual leave over a period of 5 years can be compelled to take his/her accumulated leave by his employer, since it is compulsory or mandatory for every public servant to enjoy his/her leave entitlements.”
He noted further that “an employee may only be granted funds for Air Tickets and Per Diem as part of his leave package if it is provided for under the employee’s conditions of service. However, payment for any leave accrual, Which shall not exceed two (2) years of accumulation can only be enjoyed at the end of the public servant’s service and shall apply only to holders of Categories “A” and “B” positions in the public service.
“The various officers who fall in the category of the Registrar should proceed to take their leave forthwith as directed by the Vice Chancellor and the Chairman of the Council of the UEW. It is clear that leave is mandatory in the public service and can only be deferred with permission.”
Godfred Dame, the principal legal adviser of the Government and the President for that matter had fortified his submission by relying on Section 31 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) provides that “ any agreement to relinquish the entitlement to annual leave or to forgo such leave is void” and also on Section 20(1) of Act 651 provides that; “in any undertaking: every worker is entitled to not less than fifteen working days leave with full pay in any calendar year of continuous service.
The Attorney-General was clear that the above two provisions of the Labour Act that, every public servant is entitled to annual leave, and that any agreement or arrangement to forfeit leave entitlements would be contrary to law.
Meanwhile, the UEW has appointed Mrs. Tete Mensah to act as Registrar.