The COVID-19 crisis will require a different approach to managing the public sector wage bill to achieve, under considerable uncertainty, the difficult balance of fiscal consolidation, protecting lives and livelihoods, delivering services, and restoring jobs. How can governments increase staffing and compensation for critical functions necessary for the emergency response in a fiscally responsible way? Should governments consider staffing and wage cuts for non-essential public sector functions, or reductions in benefits? What public sector pay and employment measures can help with the economic recovery and restore jobs? What wage bill reforms will improve public sector productivity in the long run and help build resilience for future crises?
This panel discussed what the appropriate short and medium term policies should be to manage the difficult tradeoffs in the short and medium term. The wage bill is an important area in several of the DPOs under preparation, and this unprecedented crisis requires fresh thinking on the topic, since the past is not an adequate guide.