A recent directive by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) barring pension operators from using contract staff for critical functions in their operations has been applauded.
Such functions, PenCom listed include pension administration; benefit administration; fund management and accounting; settlement; safe keeping; contribution collection and administration and information and communication technology.
The Commission hinged its decision on allegations of fraud and improper training of the outsource staff, stressing that the risks inherent in this arrangement had already started manifesting, as there are several cases of fraudulent activities involving these outsourced staff.?
Peter Tai Adediji, group managing director, PensionScope Group, commending the Commission’s decision, said engagement of contract staff who are often not properly trained and not entitled to some benefits enjoyed by real employees, portends great threat to the growth of the pension industry especially now that some members of the public are yet to understand the difference between the old and new scheme. “This is a welcome development as the engagement of contract staff is like engaging ‘agberos’ who are like touts at our motor parks; their usefulness is never lasting. They perform more havoc than rendering unavoidable service to their ‘employers’. Governments at various levels have spent a lot to control the excesses of these group especially where their activities have resulted in loss of lives.”
Adediji urged pension operators to avoid imitating other sectors who believe in casualisation of their workforce, adding that due to the sensitivity of pension business, efforts must be made to forestall avenues capable of creating mistrust.
He called on the operators to cooperate with PenCom and other stakeholders to ensure that the objectives set in the Pension Reform Act are achieved.
Meanwhile, the Commission in that circular has directed all licensed operators that have in their employment outsourced/contract staff in the affected functions a transition period of six months – to February 2015 to convert their employment to full status or replace them.