Salaries and Remuneration Commission SRC
Open. Accountable. Responsible
To set and review the salaries of all state officers.
To regularly study labour market conditions and advise both national and county governments on the remuneration of public officers.
Total of fourteen part-time Commissioners.
The SRC was established by the Constitution of Kenya 2010 by the people in their bid to harmonise the salaries of state officers in the context of fairness across the board, and "......(b) secure the observance by all State organs of democratic values and principles (Article 249 (1)).
In order to properly carry out this mandate, the SRC must continuously perform a social-political and fiscal balancing act.
The Commission will be "expected to minimize disharmony in the public sector and encourage orderly wage and benefit negotiations." (Kirira N, 2011).
It must not shy away from addressing the following pertinent questions: Whether to raise the pay of those it considers relatively underpaid or, lower the salaries of the overpaid; what fraction of national income should cover salaries; whether State jobs are able to attract and retain requisite talent, etc?
These and many other questions inform the considerations that the SRC must give serious thought to as it deliberates on an acceptable and workable formulae for the salaries of State officers going forward. Chapter 12 - Public Finance:
230. (5) In performing its functions, the Commission shall take the following principles into account— (a) the need to ensure that the total public compensation bill is fiscally sustainable;
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission SRC, is a constitutional commission established by Article 248 of Chapter 15 - Commissions and Independent Offices. Excerpts:
248. (2) The commissions are— (h) the Salaries and Remuneration Commission;
And Article 230 of Chapter 12 - Public Finance, Part 7 - Financial Officers and Institutions. Excerpts:
230. (1) There is established the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
The SRC is the body to determine the remuneration of State officers. In this mandate the Commission acts to determine who earns what:
(4) The powers ...... of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission shall be to— (a) set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers; .......
'State Officers' include those working under both the National and County governments, those in Commissions and Independent Offices and all those working in State organs.
On the 1st of March 2013, one month to the first General Elections under the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the SRC published and gazetted its maiden tabulation of the remuneration and benefits of State Officers. The publication did not elicit much reaction from the political class who were busy campaigning for election.
However, things changed soon after the winners were sworn in and took office.
A section of members of the 11th National Assembly and many County Assemblies began a sustained public assault on the SRC, claiming unfair remuneration. Indeed, the National Assembly Member for Igembe South, Mithika Linturi, sought to disband the Commission through a petition to remove its Commissioners for 'incompetence and gross violation of the Constitution'.
This petition was examined by the Departmental Committee on Delegated Legislation which in its report, sought instead to degazette the notice of the SRC of 1 March 2013 that set out the salaries of the members of the new Assembly. This report was also unanimously adopted by the whole House.
However, this move elicited reactions of disapproval from the President as well as from the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution CIC.
This push for higher wages fizzled out and was in September 2013 replaced by a new attempt to amend the Constitution so that House Members (as well as several other State Officers), be declassified as State Officers ostensibly to place them outside the jurisdiction of the SRC with respect to their salaries and remunerations.
Soon after, the Members of the County Assemblies MCAs, took the cue and went into a go-slow in an effort to force the hand of the Commission using public forums to claim that the National Government and the Commission were frustrating devolution. The Chair of the SRC famously quipped on the 28th October 2013 that, "The success of devolution cannot be measured by how much money is in the pocket of the (MCAs) leaders......." (Sarah Serem, 2013).
Nonetheless, the Commission has not entirely escaped public criticism of lacking firmness and being slow to act in reigning in the bloated public wage bill. When the Cabinet announced a freeze on new employment in November 2013 the SRC was portrayed as indecisive as there was no indication that the Cabinet decision had been made on the advise of the Commission.
"....... the SRC should make haste with its new wage policy for the country, to ensure that it does not shut the gate after the horse of runaway wages has bolted." (Kwame Owino, Daily Nation O/Ed, 2013).
The following year in March 2014 when the President initiated a public and stakeholders debate on a bloated and unsustainable public wage bill, the Commission was placed on the spot once more, this time by the public who were quick to blame it for its failure to remain firm in resisting the salary and benefits demands of the political elite. Moreover, the fact that this public wage bill debate was led by the President and not the SRC did not augur well in the court of public opinion with some commentators wondering why a public wage debate was required in the first place when there is a constitutional Commission established to address the same.
It will be interesting to know however, why the Commission established a harmonised salary schedule in 2014 across Counties given that different Counties do not all have the same economic power, wealth, development and levels of production, etc notwithstanding the fact that its Act of 2011 requires it to adhere to the "equal remuneration to persons for work of equal value" principal.
On the 11th of September 2015, the High Court ruled that Parliament must consult with the SRC whenever it is legislating on a matter touching on the remuneration and benefits of State Officers. As a matter of fact, the ruling came 3 years late because it followed a petition by (curiously), a sister Commission - the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights KNCHR - which had sought the declaration of the Presidential Retirement Benefits (Amendment) Act of 2012 and the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill as being unconstitutional, given that one of the early beneficiary of the amendments, Kenya's third President Mwai Kibaki, and who was the second respondent in the petition having assented to the same Bills, had already retired two-and-half years before.
To be fair to the relevant watchdog commission with respect to constitutional implementation i.e., the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution CIC the ruling was a case of the chicken coming home to roost as it had 3 years before warned the National Assembly and the President on the unconstitutionality of the Amendment Acts but had obviously been ignored.
As a Commission, the SRC must align its recommendations with the New Constitution, with national policies, and with prevailing economic conditions:
230. (4) The ..... functions of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission shall be to— (b) advise the national and county governments on the remuneration and benefits of all other public officers.
To do so, the SRC must regularly obtain and analyse accurate data on the output of every State officer, and for all to see, reward accordingly, those who are highly productive:
(5) In performing its functions, the Commission shall take the following principles into account— (c) the need to recognise productivity and performance; and (d) transparency and fairness.
Obviously, the SRC must, as is common practice, begin by taking a full audit of all job descriptions in the public service so it can advise to finer detail on the remuneration and benefits of every employee in every public office.
Sarah Serem Chair of the SRC
This Commission was among the earliest to be established after the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Sixth schedule, Consequential and Transitional Provisions:
25. (2)The Salaries and Remuneration Commission shall be constituted within nine months after the effective date.
As we have seen the Salaries and Remuneration Commission is an important commission that must consider the remuneration needs of all State officers spread across the country in various departments and organs. To do so effectively, the Commission must receive and consider the input of numerous stakeholders. This requirement is what informed the Constitution to provide for a large and widely representative membership in the SRC - made up of nominees from diverse constitutional organs, trade unions and employers, among other stakeholders and experts. In fact the SRC has one of the largest membership of Commissioners (fourteen of them) among all the constitutional Commissions:
(2) The Salaries and Remuneration Commission consists of the following persons appointed by the President— (a) a chairperson; (b) one person each nominated by the following bodies from among persons who are not members or employees of those bodies— (i) the Parliamentary Service Commission; (ii) the Public Service Commission; (iii) the Judicial Service Commission; (iv) the Teachers Service Commission; (v) the National Police Service Commission; (vi) the Defence Council; and (vii) the Senate, on behalf of the county governments; (c) one person each nominated by— (i) an umbrella body representing trade unions; (ii) an umbrella body representing employers; and (iii) a joint forum of professional bodies as provided by legislation; (d) one person each nominated by— (i) the Cabinet Secretary responsible for finance; and (ii) the Attorney-General; and (e) one person who has experience in the management of human resources in the public service, nominated by the Cabinet Secretary responsible for public service.
These part-time Commissioners will serve for a one-term period of 6 years from 2011 to 2017.
1. Constitution of Kenya, 2010. National Council for Law Reporting. The Attorney-General.
2. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission Act, 2011. National Council for Law Reporting. The Attorney-General.
3. Njeru Kirira (2011). "Public Finance under Kenya's new Constitution". Constitutional Working Paper Series No. 5. Society for International Development, SID.
4. Website of the Parliament of Kenya. Retrieved May 2013.
5. Website of the Parliament of Kenya. Retrieved May 2013.
6. "Uhuru sets the tone for public wage bill cut". Business Daily Politics and Policy Article of 16 April 2013.
7. Serem, S (2013). Chair of the SRC. Speaking in response to the failure by MCA's to meet with the Commission. Citizen (TV) Live. Captured on the 28 October 2013.
8. "Cabinet freezes new employment to check wage bill". Daily Nation article of 22 Nov 2013.
9. Kwame Owino, 2013. "Cabinet decision to freeze public employment shows the SRC is failing". Daily Nation Op/Ed Article of 27 Nov 2013.
10. "National Debate on Public Wage Bill Sustainability". Official webstite of the President. Retrieved March 2014.
11. Job Group Computation of Remuneration by the SRC for State Officers. Website of the SRC. Retrieved April 2014.
12. Kenya National Commission on Human Rights v Attorney General & another  eKLR. National Council for Law Reporting. The Attorney-General.