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Babus, ask before taking leave

Calcutta, Jan. 14: The state government has begun the process of preventing employees from taking unauthorised leaves, asking all departments what action they had taken against those who remained absent without sanction.

In a letter to all department secretaries, the personnel and administrative reforms (P&AR) department has also said that leave registers should always mention the reasons for absence and the name of the sanctioning official.

The P&AR department, the cadre-controlling authority of the state government, has instructed all departments to inform it about unauthorised leaves whenever they are taken so that it can keep a record of errant employees.

In the letter, the P&AR department says: “Some employees remain absent from duty unauthorisedly for long periods or extend an authorised leave without any intimation to the leave-sanctioning authority. However, it is generally not informed to us what action has been taken by the administrative department.”

The letter says such practices hamper administrative work, adding that unauthorised leaves went unnoticed. The P&AR department said that if action was not taken against errant employees, others could get demoralised.

While evaluating performance for promotions and salary increments, the P&AR department found that the departments had not mentioned in the yearly reports on officials the action taken for unauthorised leaves.

Sources said that in the registers maintained by most departments, no remarks were made against leaves without sanction.

The letter, part of efforts to restore work culture in Bengal, comes days after the government stripped employees’ union leaders of the right to take special casual leaves to hold conferences. It also curbed the practice of taking casual leaves on strike days, penalising employees for doing so.

The administration is also amending a service rule that shields secretariat employees, who are mostly clerical staff, from being transferred out of Calcutta, a move apparently aimed at keeping a leash on union bosses.

Senior state government officials said the Left government had not taken any step to prevent employees from taking unauthorised leaves.

“The P&AR department has mentioned in the letter that the practice of taking unauthorised leaves had continued for years. The Trinamul government’s move is an attempt to restore Bengal’s work culture,” an official said.

He said the Left government did not take any step for “fear of antagonising” the Co-ordination Committee, the powerful CPM-backed umbrella organisation of employees.

“I knew that some union leaders close to the Left parties skipped work regularly in an unauthorised manner. But I never initiated any step against them as I did not want to face the wrath of Left union leaders,” said a retired IAS officer who headed several departments during the Left Front rule.

According to the senior officials, there are six penal measures for violating service rules.

“The measures include issuing a caution notice to dismissal from service following disciplinary proceedings. But it is not yet clear what steps will be initiated against employees taking unauthorised leaves as no such action has ever been taken in Bengal,” an official said.