The federal government pays out bonuses totaling billions of pesos annually to bureaucrats for arriving at work on time, money that academics say could be better used for other purposes or to motivate workers in more beneficial ways.
A total of 34.7 billion pesos (US $1.9 billion) have been paid to public servants during the current six-year term of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which started in December 2012.
The amount is just under the entire budget of the National Autonomous University (UNAM) for all of its undergraduate and postgraduate programs in 2017.
In response to freedom of information requests, the newspaper El Universal found that 23 federal agencies provide incentives to employees in this way.
Workers at the Social Security Institute, IMSS, are by far the largest beneficiaries of the punctuality bonus, receiving 77.5% of all money paid out under the scheme over the past four years. The next biggest spenders on the bonus are the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and the Federal Employees’ Social Security Institute, ISSTE.
The Education Secretariat (SEP) pays punctual teachers twice annually while similar bonuses even extend to the federal Senate and Chamber of Deputies, although the amounts paid there are more modest. The national statistics institute, Inegi, even paid out bonuses to family members of deceased former workers who claimed them.
Punctuality bonuses have grown steadily over the past four years. In 2016, 8.3 billion pesos were paid out, more than 13% higher than in 2013.
But not everyone pays it: the Interior Secretariat (Segob) and Pemex are among those that do not.
IMSS says payment of the bonus is justified because its collective agreement with workers calls for it.
But many academics and researchers argue that the government shouldn’t incentivize workers for simply arriving at work on time on the grounds that it is a basic employment obligation, and the bonus doesn’t reward productivity or job performance.
Iberoamericana University academic Abraham Vergara Contreras thinks the amount being paid out is both illogical and unfair.
“It’s not right that for doing their work employees are paid that amount of money by government. There are bonuses for productivity, for being competitive or reaching established goals, that’s fair, but I don’t see this as appropriate.”
For the same amount of money, Vergara argued, thousands of cancer treatments could be paid for or thousands of extra places at universities could be created.
Claudio Vázquez, an academic at the Panamericana University (UP) has a similar view, arguing that any kind of financial incentives must be based on tangible benefits to the employer.
“Does arriving at work on time really add value, given that it’s an obligation?” he asked.
Researcher Ignacio Sevilla, also of UP, believes that spending could be cut by improving the work environment and that employees could be given incentives by offering non-monetary recognition such as an employee of the month program.
Source: El Universal (sp)