UCT Human Resources and COVID-19

19 March 2020 | Dr Reno Morar, COO

Dear colleagues

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.

c) Leave

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:

  • If a staff member suspects that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are feeling unwell, they must complete the “special leave” process online or via HR forms submitted via email. The COVID-19 guideline for special leave of 14 days will apply.
  • A staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 must complete the sick leave process and notify UCT’s Occupational Health and Safety unit.
  • A member of staff who has recovered from COVID-19 must contact their line manager for back-to-work discussions and provide the necessary health records to work as required.
  • Staff are reminded that they are required to complete normal leave applications for the various types of leave whether they are working remotely or on-site.

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):

  • With immediate effect, all HR forms are to be completed online/electronically and submitted to HR via email.
  • E-signatures / thread of email correspondence must indicate approval from all authorities as per Council approved HR DOA.

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

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UCT’s response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020. UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has in June 2022 repealed some of South Africa’s remaining COVID-19 regulations: namely, sections 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions under the National Health Act. We are now no longer required to wear masks or limit gatherings. Venue restrictions and checks for travellers coming into South Africa have now also been removed.

In July 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) revised its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic on UCT campuses in 2022.
Read the latest document available on the UCT policies web page.


Campus communications


Adjusting to our new environment 16:50, 23 June 2022
VC Open Lecture and other updates 17:04, 13 April 2022
Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 12 March 2022 09:45, 18 March 2022
UCT Council
March 2022 graduation celebration 16:45, 8 March 2022
Report on the meeting of UCT Council of 21 February 2022 19:30, 21 February 2022
UCT Council
COVID-19 management 2022 11:55, 14 February 2022
Return to campus arrangements 2022 11:15, 4 February 2022

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

On Wednesday, 20 July, staff from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences came together with representatives from the Western Cape Government at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre at Forest Hill Residence to acknowledge the centre’s significance in the fight against COVID-19 and to thank its staff for their contributions. The centre opened on 1 September 2021 with the aim of providing quality vaccination services to UCT staff, students and the nearby communities, as well as to create an opportunity for medical students from the Faculty of Health Sciences to gain practical public health skills. The vaccination centre ceased operations on Friday, 29 July 2022.

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.


“After almost a year of operation, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, located at the Forest Hill residence complex in Mowbray, will close on Friday, 29 July 2022. I am extremely grateful and proud of all staff, students and everyone involved in this important project.”
– Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.

Thank You UCT Community

Frequently asked questions


Global Citizen Asks: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe & Effective?

UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) collaborated with Global Citizen, speaking to trusted experts to dispel vaccine misinformation.

If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccine check out the FAQ produced by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF). The DTHF has developed a dedicated chat function where you can ask your vaccine-related questions on the bottom right hand corner of the website.

IDM YouTube channel | IDM website


“As a contact university, we look forward to readjusting our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2023 as the COVID-19 regulations have been repealed.”
– Prof Harsha Kathard, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

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.