In line with the principle of social and physical distancing and in order to ensure the safety of staff, UCT is redefining the workplace to include working from home where appropriate. This means that staff will, with due urgency, be duly authorised to do so by their line managers and are legally protected in terms of the relevant legislation, while remaining subject to UCT’s staffing policies and protocols.
Ensuring the success of this approach will require alternative ways of working: prioritising electronic communication and other online functionality, reducing meetings and walk-ins, consultations via email/circular wherever possible, and scheduling meetings only as an exception.
HR’s approach for university wide adoption
In the context of what we are facing, staff in management positions are called upon to act with due urgency, demonstrate their leadership in dealing with COVID-19 and its complexities; demonstrate due care for staff; be flexible while making balanced managerial decisions; ensure that staff take personal responsibility to meet deliverables and work closely with their line managers to ensure accountability.
The following principles will ensure the success of this approach:
a) Business continuity
Line managers are producing plans for their areas of oversight and accompanying resource plans (including the executive, the registrar, deans, executive directors, and directors who report directly to a member of the executive). Standard management practices are in place while classes are suspended and the residences are closed, including the delivery of work and services while ensuring staff safety and care.
b) Work segmentation in support of social and physical distancing
Line managers must segment work based on the nature of the work itself, whether it is a priority during this period and whether it can be performed remotely. Line managers are also to familiarise themselves with the modes of transport used by their staff members to inform decisions about work segmentation.
Line managers must reduce the presence of staff on site. Only where it is absolutely necessary for work to be delivered “on-site”, or as part of an “essential service” line managers will put in place leaner staffing models/skeleton services, limited shift rotations and make special arrangements to transport staff to limit exposure to the virus in public transport.
During these unusual times the university’s approach to deal with leave will be guided by whether there is a need for work to be performed or not. This will apply to remote and on-site work. The following will apply:
d) Staff who are working in critical/essential areas and are now required to take care of children as a result of the national directive to close schools
The principle of special leave will apply under these circumstances for those staff in critical/essential areas where they are unable to perform their duties at home. These members of staff will be required to complete the special leave process for line management’s approval.
e) Approach to staff who are already immunocompromised
Immunocompromised (as defined by the World Health Organization report 2019) staff are a special area of consideration for line managers and supervisors. Line managers need to identify such staff members under their care, but staff may also self-identify. Line managers must ensure confidentiality in cases where staff have a particular diagnosis which links to their immunocompromised status.
Staff who fall within this category, are better protected from exposure to the virus by working remotely, where this is required, and will not be required to perform on-site work. Staff members who fulfil essential/critical functions and are unable to work onsite due to their immunocompromised status, will therefore be covered through special leave provisions.
f) Health and safety considerations for on-site and essential services staff
The university, through line managers, will provide the appropriate safety gear and protocols as advised by UCT’s Occupational Health and Safety unit.
For further queries please contact the Director: HR Client Services, Zaheer Ally email: Zaheer.Ally@uct.ac.za or telephone 021 650 4226
For queries regarding staff organisational health and wellness, please route all queries to Ms Blanche Claasen-Hoskins, HR Organisational Health and Wellness via email Blanche.Claasen-Hoskins@uct.ac.za or telephone 021 650 5685
Remote HR Processes, Forms and Operations
To facilitate the completion and submission of HR forms http://forms.uct.ac.za/#HumanResources in accordance with the Council approved HR delegations of authority (HRDoA):
All other HR services will be delivered in accordance with the principle of social distancing and making use of appropriate remote-working technology where possible.
As there is now spread of COVID-19 within our local communities please remember to continue the practice of social and physical distancing.
Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer
Read previous communications:
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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March. This was followed by the implementation of a national lockdown, which has been in effect since midnight on 26 March and has recently been extended to 30 April. The intention of this drastic measure is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.
Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19
The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.
To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the global consequences of fragmented, inadequate and inequitable healthcare systems and the damage caused by hesitant and poorly communicated responses.24 Jun 2020 - >10 min read Opinion
Our scientists must not practise in isolation, but be encouraged to be creative and increase our knowledge of the needs of developing economies, write Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of UCT, and Professor Thokozani Majozi from the University of the Witwatersrand.09 Jun 2020 - 6 min read Republished
South Africa has been recognised globally for its success in flattening the curve, which came as a result of President Ramaphosa responding quickly to the crisis, writes Prof Alan Hirsch.28 Apr 2020 - 6 min read Republished
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.