Departmental Circular Number 02 of 2021
Issued by Office of the Deputy Director General: Corporate Support Services
All Deputy Directors-General and Equivalent Ranks: [For Implementation]
All Chief Directors and Equivalent Ranks : [For Implementation]
All Directors and Equivalent Ranks : [For Implementation]
All Staff : [For Implementation]
RETURNING TO WORK 2021 AND RETURN TO LOCKDOWN LEVEL 3
1. The purpose of this Circular is to clarify and outline processes for employees returning to work in 2021 and matters to be considered as a result of the decision to put the country on an adjusted Level 3 as from 29 December 2020.
2. On Monday, 28 December 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Cabinet has determined that the alert level for the whole country will be adjusted upwards from Level 1 to Level 3 as from 29 December 2020. The President indicated that several of the previous level 3 regulations will be strengthened to further limit the potential for transmission of the Covid-19 virus, while doing everything possible to keep the economy open.
3. The implementation of the upwards adjustment to level 3 will, as was the case in the previous levels, require adherence to strict health protocols and social distancing that are in accordance with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the guidelines issued by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).
4. On 1 May 2020 the DPSA issued Circular 18 of 2020, which was distributed via ICM. Following this, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) developed and implemented a Comprehensive Plan on the Gradual Return to work which outlines all the activities to be carried out in preparation of employees returning to work, as set out in, amongst others, Departmental Circular 6 of 2020.
5. As the DALRRD has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its employees and clients, the Department has finalised the decontamination and disinfection of the Departmental buildings as mentioned in Departmental Circular 6 of 2020 and will continuously conduct decontamination processes where and when necessary.
6. The Department has also issued and will keep on issuing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all officials where necessary.
7. Government Gazette, No. 1127, Chapter 4(34)(8)(a) calls for all employers to adapt measures to promote physical distancing of employees. This includes enabling employees to work from home or minimising the need for employees to be physically present at the workplace. Where it is therefore possible for employees to work remotely, they should work remotely. The decision to work remotely must, however, be taken by the relevant Chief Directors in consultation with the relevant Director / Senior Manager of a Directorate / Component and with due consideration of business continuity and the service delivery needs of the specific Component. Aforesaid differs from Component to Component considering the unique working environments that exist in the Department. Managers must ensure that employees who can work remotely are provided with the necessary tools to do so, subject to budget limitations.
8. With due consideration to paragraph 7 supra all Chief Directors / Director should ensure that the relevant control measures and reporting mechanisms are in place to monitor working from home. Although officials will be allowed to work from home where practical possible service, delivery should still continue.
9. Employees who are older than 60 years of age and suffer from underlying conditions as well as other employees with underlying conditions are referred to paragraphs 9 and 10 of Departmental Circular 65 of 2020, dated 1 October 2020. These guidelines will still be applicable and should be consulted.
10. Informed by the imperative to contain the spread of Covid-19 and keeping employees safe, some employees will therefore work remotely, some physically in the office and in some instances a hybrid model of remote working and physically coming to office.
11. Although employees may work remotely, they may be requested / required from time-to-time to attend the workplace, to amongst others receive instructions, guidelines, attend meetings, access office infrastructure, finalise tasks and to submit completed tasks. The aforesaid must be managed by the respective Managers with the ultimate purpose of protecting our employees, whilst not compromising service delivery.
12. Should the nature of the work require from an employee to be physically at work i.e. Service Desk Operator, provision should be made for a flexi hours staggered approach in terms of employees report for duty at different times and leave the office at different times to ensure adequate social distancing at the entrances/exits during screening and in the use of lifts, where applicable.
13. Chief Directors in consultation with the relevant Director / Senior Manager of a Directorate / Component and with due consideration of business continuity and the service delivery needs of the specific Component may also consider the implementation of a rotational shift system. Aforesaid will apply to employees mentioned in paragraph 12 supra. It will also contribute positively towards business continuation in the unwanted event of a certain group contacting the virus.
14. General health protocols and social distancing must be strictly observed. All employees should continue to promote and ensure appropriate prevention and control practices including hand hygiene, hand washing and sanitising, cleaning and sanitising of work equipment, surfaces and spaces, wearing of face masks, respiratory etiquette and social distancing.
15. Where practically possible face-to-face contact or physical meetings/contact should be avoided and alternatives such as video conferencing or Teams meetings should be encouraged.
16. Travelling for work purposes should be limited to instances of delivering services and achieving the mandate of the Department.
17. It is of the utmost importance for employees to:
a. Wear a mask.
b. Wash or sanitise their hands.
c. Keep or maintain a safe distance from others.
d. Ensure venues are well ventilated and that the permitted capacity of venues is not being exceeded.
MR RM RAMASODI
DATE: 05 January 2021