Support staff compensation practices in public secondary schools in Kathiani district – Machakos county, Kenya
This purpose of the study was to investigate compensation practices of support staff in public secondary with a case study of Kathiani District in Machakos County, Kenya. The research project objectives examined into; the extent to which existing government policies, the size of the school, employees qualifications, and the existing market rates in other institutions of learning influenced the compensation practices of support staff in public secondary schools. The target population for the study was 279 respondents and sampled 29 Principals and 250 members of support staff. Using a descriptive sample design, the study used questionnaires for principals and support staff.Data collected on respondents on the objective on how government policies and legislations influence compensation practices of support staff in public secondary schools shows than it accounts for about 7percent among the factors that influence the level of compensation practices among support staff in Kathiani District. However all schools had some evidence of compliance of government regulation on statutory deductions and had manuals on safety and work conditions of support staff. All institutions had employed both genders which show some compliance with legal requirement of equal opportunity in employment to both sexes. In all the institutions the labour laws on minimum age limit of employment – of not employing one below 18 years had been complied with. However, Government policy and legislation plays a minimal role. Demographic data on the schools characteristics shows about 60 percent of the schools in the District which has an enrolment rate of students of between 150 – 250 students. The enrolment status in a school is a key factor to consider in order coming up with the appropriate numbers of support staff per school. Enrolment on the other hand also determines the financial strength of the school. The financial ability of the school will further determine the level of compensation that the school will offer her workers as observed by Holzer (1990) that employees of high profitable organizations have a greater chance of receiving higher wages that those working for less profitable enterprises. The data collected on education and professional qualifications of the workers shows that 48 percent of the members of the support staff have Primary Education as the highest grade of their education. This high percentage can be attributed to the fact that most of the duties of support staff in public secondary schools do not require high level of education nor does it require high skilled personnel. Though most of the workers are not skilled, employee qualification plays a key role in determining compensation level for support staff. As Porter (2000) notes that the demand for a particular skill heavily influences the way the employer fixes compensation practice of her employees in literature review – thus employees qualifications is considered in setting compensation practice for the skilled labour like Cateress, drivers, Bursars, School Secretary and Nurses among others.The data collected on labour market conditions and how the compensation practice used by other education institutions in the Kathiani District affects what the individual schools offer to her employees, this show a low percentage of influence about 10.3 percent. The low percentage of influence could be attributed to the other factors that might have attracted the employee to accept the compensation offered like the proximity of work station to one’s residence or home. However for the rare skills it was noted that the school had to offer attractive packages to retain quality and experience staff such as in Laboratory technicians, school drivers, school nurses etc. It’s important to note that while supply and demand are factors determining compensation practices, government regulations and union bargaining power can serve reduce the full impact of supply and demand considerations. The factors that seem to have great impact on compensation practice of support staff among the researched factors are size of the school in terms of enrolment and the employee education level and professional qualification. The findings of the study indicate that Government policy and legislation though under normal circumstance it would be a key factor, the study shows it does not play a crucial role. Likewise market forces of demand and supply of labour seemed to be effective only where rare skilled labour is in great demand while results from the study might be convincing for a case study. It is feared that samples is too small to warrant generalization of these conclusions across all public secondary schools in Kenya. Additional research is therefore required to ascertain whether these conclusions can hold for the whole country.According to the findings there is need to conduct further research to supplement the study findings;-Further research should be carried out to investigate which other factors apart from the ones studied influence compensation practice of support staff in public secondary schools. Also further research should be carried to investigate compensation practice of support staff in private secondary schools in Kathiani District. It is also suggested the researcher replicate this study in other Districts in Machakos County in order to verify if the findings would be similar to the findings would be similar to the findings of this particular study. The researcher also recommended that the research be replicated in other Districts in Kenya.