Plan unveiled for when public service workers return to work

Picture: Jacques Nelles

While they are not returning just yet, the plan will aim to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.

Following the announcement of the risk adjusted strategy and the move to phase in the reopening of the economy, Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu says a plan has been created to facilitate the return of public service employees to work.

“For government to facilitate the unlocking of the economy, there will be a need for more public servants to return to the workplace to provide services that will be required by those sectors that are part of the Level 4 phase,” Mchunu said at a media briefing on Friday.

The measures require departments to set up internal Covid-19 steering committees to implement and monitor plans and ensure service delivery.

“Care should be given to all pertinent issues, including leave arrangements for employees and reporting mechanisms in relation to gaps caused by lack of laptops for each employee,” Mchunu said.

Heads of department and directors general would ensure health measures were observed in their departments.

They are to implement systems which will prevent the spread of Covid-19, including the management of hygiene and social distancing when employees return.

Recalling back of workers as demands increase with the easing of the lockdown, departments may need to identify more employees responsible for critical services and recall them to supplement capacity, including those who were working remotely during Level 5.

Departments would also develop a schedule for employees to return, which would also assist in managing the number of people in the workplace.

Those who were required to be in the workplace would be issued with permits to travel.

To limit the number of people working at the same time, heads of department and director generals should consider amending working hours to lessen the risks involved with employees arriving and leaving at the same time, Mchunu said.

To limit the number of workers in common areas, like kitchens and canteens, meal intervals and related activities would be arranged at different times.

Remote workers

Mchunu said remote workers were important in the fight against Covid-19 with regard to social distancing.

A detailed framework of norms and standards will be developed for workers to keep in mind while working from home.

“Where people can work remotely from their homes, departments are encouraged to continue with this approach,” Mchunu said.

Employees are encouraged to ensure workers are able to do this by providing the necessary resources.

The department would decide on an employee’s ability to work remotely, but should keep in mind the risks associated with older employees and those with comorbidities.

“Those that present with comorbidities; those workers will be expected to submit evidential documentation to the human resources,” Mchunu said.

Workplace measure

Before employees returned, their workplace would be thoroughly cleaned.

Temperature screening, compulsory wearing of cloth masks and easy access to hand sanitisers would be implemented.

PPE will be provided to those who need it.

Support mechanisms would also be provided for employees who are impacted by Covid-19, Mchunu said.

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