The Change of the Legal Status of the Staff of the Administration of the President is Unjustified
On December 10, a draft law by MPs Guram Macharashvili and Rati Ionatamishvili was registered at the Parliamentary Bureau, which envisages the change of the status of the President’s Administration staff from qualified public officers to persons recruited on the basis of an employment agreement. With these amendments, the staff of the President’s Administration will be dismissed upon the expiration of the President’s term, while the recruiting of new staff will be possible without a contest and their contract duration will be tied to the President’s term of office. These amendments violate the rights of the Administration’s staff, as well as threatens the fulfillment of the public service reforms.
Since 2013, the main aim of the public service reforms was the establishment of a legal basis for the formation and functioning of a stable, unified public service in Georgia based on career promotion, merit, integrity, political neutrality, impartiality, and accountability. The aforementioned principles were reflected in the new Law on Public Service.
Notably, the EU-Georgia Association Agreement also envisages the pursuit of public administration reform and on building an accountable, efficient, effective, transparent and professional civil service.
According to the Law on Public Service, work in the Administration of the President is considered as a civil servant position, which is appointed for an unspecified term. According to the initiated draft law, the status of persons recruited on the basis of an employment agreement will be given to over 100 civil servants working in the Administration of the President. This change radically changes their legal status and undermines the provisions of the law that state that staff in the Administration of the President are civil servants.
According to the explanatory note of the draft law, the necessity for the amendments is that “the staff of the Administration of the President represents the support staff of the President in his/her execution of duties as a state-political official, therefore they should be recruited on the basis of an employment agreement.
Notably, the Administration of the President can recruit staff on the basis of an employment agreement under the current law (mainly advisors and assistants). However, the entire staff of the Administration of the President cannot be considered as support staff to the President, since they are committed to upholding the effective functioning of the institution and their duties remain the same with every President. Institutional memory and professionalism are the precursors to ensure the successful execution of their duties.
The initiated draft law also goes against the essence of the N626 Constitutional Court Decision of October 17, 2017, on the “Oleg Latsabidze Against the Parliament of Georgia”, where the Court deemed unconstitutional a provision that envisaged the dismissal without basis of the head of the structural unit upon the election of a new Gamgebeli.
We call upon the Parliament to vote against the initiated draft law that establishes a precedent for the politicization of the public service, damages the ongoing reforms and violates the labor rights of public servants.