Change of Service

Up to the end of last year, the Brunei Civil Service was the odd one out. Many many years ago when the British ran the civil service, it was a male oriented service. Ladies were expected to work for a short time and expected to leave after they get married. Brunei was not the only one. Malaysia and Singapore also had such rules. But they have changed the rules a lot earlier.

So in Brunei, when any lady officer or staff gets married, they are forced to retire - they are no longer in the permanent establlishment list and they are rehired on a month to month basis, technically meaning that they can be made to retire anytime even though in practise no one was made to retire. Though month-to-month staff are required to be reappointed every 3 years and if a department fails to submit the paperwork on time, it can cause great anxiety to the person concerned.

In the days when pensions were still paid out, being on a month-to-month basis means that these ladies when they retire no longer receive their pensions. But in the days of TAP, it does not matter in terms of retirement benefits as those in the permanent service received TAP similar to those on month-to-month service. But it matters in other things.

In 1980, the rules were changed slightly. For lady officers who are degree holders, they remain on permanent establishment regardless of marital status. Being on permanent establishment means a lot though in terms of benefits. This include being able to apply education allowances for your children etc without relying on your husbands to apply for it.

A few years ago, the rules were modified slightly. Lady officers in Division 2 in month-to-month establishment are no longer required to have their appointment renewed every three years thus establishing two grades of month-to-month services. Again, other than making life easy for admin people, it does not matter much. The discriminatory factor is still there.

Finally, at the end of last year, I gather that finally the month-to-month service will be scrapped finally bringing us in line with the rest of the world. There will no longer be any month-to-month service for any lady officer and staff who are not graduates and got married. Everyone will be on permanent establishment (except of course contract officers and officers appointed after retirement.) What benefits will it bring? Well, many lady officers and staff who are not married to a government officer or staff will be able to apply for their children's education allowances and any other benefits previously reserved for permanent establishment. Kudos to those who finally brought about the changes, better late than never.


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