Kerala govt threatens pay cut for Secretariat staff with irregular biometric swipe

Kerala govt threatens pay cut for Secretariat staff with irregular punching

Thiruvananthapuram: With the Kerala government deciding to cut the salaries of those Secretariat employees with irregular biometric swipes from next month, the staff have been running from pillar to post to regularise the attendance. The missed attendance would be marked as unauthorised leaves and the government would cut their pay.

Though the biometric swiping system was in place, it was not linked to the Service and Payroll Administrative Repository for Kerala (SPARK) software used for salary disbursal. The procedures were made more stringent from this month and the punching system was linked to SPARK.

SPARK is an accounts information system which caters to personnel administration, payroll and other account activities of government establishments.

The General Administration Department is of the stance that salary of latecomers should be cut. Based on the order of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, General Administration Department secretary Biswanath Sinha called for strict implementation of the punching system. All outfits, including the Left, had opposed this order. However, the secretary decided to go ahead with the strict implementation of the biometric swiping system, which was even mentioned in the governor’s policy address.

As previous governments had also tried but failed to effectively implement the swiping system, the employees apparently did not take the instructions seriously. Those staff, who took a lax approach towards swiping, are now forced to check the attendance register of an entire year. The work timings at the Secretariat are from 10:15am to 5:15pm.

There is a grace period of 300 minutes for a month. Maximum of 60-minute grace period can be used in a day. The employees can check their balance grace time via SPARK. Grace time is not allotted for half-day. A one-day compensation off is granted for those staff, who have clocked 10 hours of overtime or more. The employees have to swipe their way in and out. One-way punching would not be recorded.

The salary bill is prepared at the Secretariat by calculating the attendance from the 16th of the previous month to 15th of the current month. The employees have to record the attendance on the swiping system using their ID card or by keying in the Permanent Employee Number (PEN).

Misuse of the swiping system?

Some of the employees living within the Thiruvananthapuram city limits are allegedly misusing the swiping system.

Complaints have risen that such employees swipe in while out for a morning walk or when taking their child to school. Some of these staff have even taken compensatory off by claiming overtime.

Sinha plans to use the cameras placed near the swiping point and on the Secretariat premises to catch such employees.

The government has instructed to implement Aadhaar-based swiping system at all government offices and educational institutions, where salary is disbursed via SPARK, by November. Those offices, that do not have SPARK, have been ordered to purchase their own machines to keep track of the attendance.

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