The Ministry of Civil Service on Monday ordered the directors of provincial civil service departments to temporarily suspend teachers’ overtime payments.

The pay suspension includes teachers tasked with teaching two shifts, teaching mixed classes with different levels of students, and those working over the normal number of hours per week.

A letter signed by Minister of Civil Service Prum Sokha on Monday said the temporary suspension of permit applications for teacher overtime payments has been submitted to the directors of the provincial civil service departments.

The decision is in line with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport’s declaration to temporarily suspend all educational institutions from March 16 due to Covid-19.

“The suspension is made to control the payment of teachers teaching two shifts, teaching mixed-level classes and teaching overtime in line with the government’s measure on strengthening cost efficiency,” Sokha said.

Sokha instructed the directors at each provincial civil service department to suspend permits allowing monthly overtime payments until a further announcement is made.

He also suggested that the Ministry of Civil Service cooperate with other ministries and relevant institutions to find a solution for overtime payments that had already been paid to teachers.

Ministry spokesman Chhoeun Bunnarath said on Tuesday that the suspension of the permits meant that the provincial and municipal civil service departments would suspend the approval of applications for monthly overtime payments.

“When the Department of Civil Service does not grant permits, the Department of Economy and Finance, including the Treasury, will no longer provide overtime money. Teachers’ monthly salaries should continue to be paid as usual,” he said.

However, the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (Cita) president Ouk Chayavy does not support the decision. She said it was inappropriate because teachers had no intention of suspending their work.

That decision, she said, was made by the government to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Normally for the teaching process, teachers are directly teaching, so they should be paid properly for their labour.

“However, it was not the intention of teachers to stop teaching. It was because of Covid-19. It is the ministry as well as the government that issued instructions for them to stop teaching,” she said.

Chayavy called on the relevant ministries to check for ghost teachers or teachers who are listed at schools but don’t actually teach, to reduce government spending.