Not all policies are always good

I am a man who likes titles – legitimate or otherwise and I have accumulated quite a number already. That said, although this column will delve on policy issues, I cannot claim to be a policy analyst but I do not need to be one to tell a good policy from a bad one.

Public and private enterprises in Uganda derive their operational mandate from clearly written and stipulated guidelines otherwise known as policies. Therefore, for a citizen to be a good one, or for an employee to thrive, he/she must familiarise themselves with the policies that inform civic duty or their respective work.

Here at UCU, numerous policies explain pretty much everything from public holidays, food consumption, to complex stuff like whistleblowing. But with time, it has emerged that some of these policies are either applied selectively or are outright bad policies.

We should note that a good policy is one that serves the best interests of the people it is meant for. The bad one works to the contrary.

To contextualise this, let me use the tales of two gentlemen who I recently had contact with. One is John, a security personnel and the other is Paul, a driver (both names fictional).

John has been working at UCU for nine years now. His contract however expired about four months ago and has not been renewed until now but that notwithstanding, he has been deployed and has been working albeit without health insurance cover and any other benefits that accrue to a colleague with a contract.

The policy is that John should have applied for renewal three months prior to the expiration of his contract so he can allow Human Resource time to evaluate his performance and either agree to renew his contract or not.

From our conversation, he fulfilled all the necessities but has neither got a contract nor an explanation from HR as to why he has no contract now. He feels under-appreciated and is not comfortable with the fact that his job puts him at risk on the road daily and yet he has no life cover insurance.

Paul’s story is slightly different. As a driver, he is given shs7,000 as his allowance when he drives to Entebbe and back. He recently was assigned to pick a guest from Entebbe International Airport but the guest who was meant to touch base at 11pm arrived two hours later.

He used personal airtime to correspond with his bosses because he is not entitled to an airtime allowance. And later, although Paul drove the guest safely to the university, he arrived a little after 2:30am, too late for him to get a boda-boda home yet the university policy does not allow him to drive the university car out of the gate without a gate pass, for safety reasons.

Well, what about Paul’s safety? How does he get home from duty at such a troubling time without the means or the money? Did the authors of this policy create a contingency plan?

I am a great admirer of law governed behaviour but a policy has to be just and fair to be good.

My humble appeal is that the authors be more accommodative and consultative in designing    some of these policies for a bad law is no law at all.

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