Government issues rules to workers over Covid

Tuesday June 09 2020
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Public Service permanent secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire

Government has issued new post lockdown standard operating procedures that will see public service cut down the number of staff working from office to 30 per cent.

The Ministry of Public Service, in a June 5 circular, addressed to all ministries, departments, agencies and local governments, said 70 per cent of staff are supposed to work from home.

“Each ministry, department, agency and local government should identify 30 per cent of its total workforce to remain on duty to ensure that critical services are provided promptly. Seventy per cent of the workforce will continue to offer their services remotely in line with Circular letter No. 6 of 2020,” the permanent secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire, wrote.

She said the new guidelines are to ensure that government continues to deliver quality services while mitigating the spread of Covid-19.

Ms Musingwiire, however, said those working from home can be recalled to office in case of an emergency.
“They should avail themselves physically or remotely whenever called upon to perform their duties,” she added.
The Ministry of Public Service also directed the responsible officers to put in place crowd management plans at the work premises while ensuring social distancing.

Responsible officers must provide websites, emails and telephone lines through which the public can contact them so as to limit visits to offices.

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“Visitors/clients should not be allowed entry into office premises with exception of services where personal presence is inevitable, for example medical treatment,” the circular states.
According to the circular, it is mandatory for all public service employees to use face masks, thermal scanning and sanitising at entrances of office premises.

Ms Musingwire also said employees and visitors must sanitise their hands before accessing public offices.
“Employees with flu, cough, cold and fever must stay home and seek medical treatment after informing their respective responsible officers. While within office premises, employees should limit physical interaction with fellow employees,” the notice states.

Ms Bitarakwate said employees should be encouraged to use their personal vehicles or officially allocated vehicles for commuting to and from the workplace. Official vehicles may be provided to pick and drop required officers who don’t have private vehicles, she added.

Ban on physical meetings
The ministry has also banned physical meetings within government ministries and that only emergency ones will be allowed.

“Physical meetings should not be held, video conferences/conference calls should be used as an alternative. For emergency situations where a physical meeting is inevitable, it should be held outdoors, with a composition of up to a maximum of ten (10) participants and social distance should be observed in line with the guidelines issued by Ministry of Health,” she said.

Ms Bitarakwate said employees within the advanced age bracket, those with co-morbidities and breast-feeding mothers should be supported to work from home.

Responsible officers are also directed to ensure that there is a gap of one hour for employees working in shifts and that lunch breaks should also be spread to ensure social distancing in cafeteria/canteens at work premises.
The permanent secretary said employees and all those accessing government offices must be encouraged to use staircases or ramps and that lifts/ elevators must operate at half capacity.

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