Staff

27 August 2020

Staff support


Staff support

(Updated 16 November) Taking annual leave allows staff to take paid time off from work to rest, reduce stress levels, re-energise mind and body, practise self-care and spend time with loved ones.

With the end of the year fast approaching, we encourage staff members to take the annual leave available to them, subject to the standard operational requirements and approval processes. We especially encourage those staff members who stand to lose leave days that are not taken by year end to do so.

In unusual circumstances, where leave days may be lost as a result of operational requirements preventing staff from taking leave, a formal request and detailed motivation as to why the leave could not be granted and must be carried forward, must be submitted to your HR administrator by 1 December 2020. This will be considered in accordance with the Council-approved policy and HR’s Delegation of Authority. The deadline of 1 December 2020 is to ensure sufficient time to give effect to the necessary system changes. It will not be possible to consider requests that come in after this deadline.

(Updated 16 November) While academics also need to take paid time off from work to rest, reduce stress levels, re-energise mind and body, practise self-care and spend time with loved ones, UCT acknowledges the circumstances which many of our academic staff members are under in the current context of needing to deliver on their roles, and we appreciate their dedication to the teaching programme.

As communicated in the recent message to academic staff about leave provisions, the context and revised academic calendar, any academic staff member who is unable to utilise their leave due to operational requirements should liaise with their line manager to discuss deferment to an appropriate time.

(Updated 16 November) Union negotiations are currently in process and a response in this regard would be premature at this point.

(Updated 16 November) UCT’s financial position has been communicated on various forums. Staff furloughs or lay-offs are not being considered by UCT currently. The UCT leadership is monitoring the situation to ensure financial sustainability.

(Updated 16 November) UCT’s intention is to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 by reducing the number of workers at the workplace at any given time. This can happen through consideration of various work mode possibilities that ensure delivery of outputs, including rotational models, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures to achieve social distancing and to limit congestion in public transport and at UCT premises.

Managers and employees are asked to continue working from home if they can do so in ways that do not inhibit the university’s ability to provide core services, conduct research or deliver education to students. Working remotely is not possible for all employees, but implementing remote working where possible can go a long way to enhancing social distancing and reducing risk both for those working at home and those who remain on campus. Staff members who do work from home are reminded that they could occasionally be required to be on campus physically, depending on the operational need.

(Updated 16 November) Staff members are allowed to work remotely from any location. However, it is important to consult with your line manager and to be available should the need arise for you to be physically present on campus.

(Updated 16 November) Your line manager will need to decide whether travel for work is necessary, depending on the purpose of the trip and whether it is a UCT requirement. Staff members should adopt a very cautious attitude to travel and follow all government regulations and guidance, as well as the guidelines for fieldwork. Staff members need to take leave if the travel is for personal reasons.

(Updated 16 November) UCT will terminate the temporary transport service that was provided for essential staff members (for pick-up and drop-off at home) in line with the country’s move to lockdown Level 1. The temporary service was terminated on Saturday, 31 October 2020. It was initiated by UCT management when South Africa moved to lockdown Level 4. It was an additional temporary cost to the university that was necessary during tighter lockdown regulations, and the service was terminated for financial and operational reasons.

(Updated 16 November) Line managers are encouraged to keep the channels of communication open with staff members. Staff are encouraged to apply for and take leave if they need a break, operations permitting.

UCT’s Human Resources department offers many forms of support, including telephonic and online psychosocial support from the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). SADAG has various programmes in place to help support staff members. These include dealing with substance abuse during COVID-19, the psychological impact of COVID-19 and mental health during lockdown.

(Updated 16 November) If you declare a high risk on the assessment, the Occupational Health Service (OHS) at UCT will assess your risk, together with assessing the physical area where you need to work, to identify the risk of exposure to the virus. The OHS will then decide if you are authorised to return to UCT or not. There may be conditions to your return. All health-related information will remain confidential and will only be available to the OHS.

(Updated 16 November) UCT is obligated, in terms of section 27 (2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, to conduct health screening of staff members. The Higher Health app assists the university to do so. UCT does not access any personal staff data through the use of the app. Staff must show daily that they are symptom-free and have a safe and healthy status to be able to be on campus. The cellphone app assists staff and managers to work together to keep our environment and the UCT community as safe as is reasonably practical.

(Updated 31 August) Certain persons are at higher risk of severe disease if they contract COVID-19. This is confirmed by data from other countries as well as from data in the Western Cape. The COVID-19 Personal Health Risk assessment is used to assess your health status to determine if you are at higher risk.

(Updated 31 August) You will need to complete the COVID-19 Personal Health Risk assessment online. If you do not have access to the internet, you may call 021 650 0999. If you work in the Department of Student Affairs, call 021 650 5620 for assistance with completing the assessment.

(Updated 31 August) If you have any health risks, as specified in the assessment, you will be required to declare each risk. You will need to produce evidence relating to this risk from your health practitioner or your medical aid. (The medical aids are aware of this and should have already contacted you in this regard.) If you need assistance with this, and do not have access to the internet, please call 021 650 0999. If you work in the Department of Student Affairs, call 021 650 5620 for assistance with completing the assessment.

(Updated 16 November) If you declare a high risk on the assessment, the Occupational Health Service (OHS) at UCT will assess your risk, together with assessing the physical area where you need to work, to identify the risk of exposure to the virus. The OHS will then decide if you are authorised to return to UCT or not. There may be conditions to your return. All health-related information will remain confidential and will only be available to the OHS.

(Updated 31 August) The assessment will be sent to your line manager, who will inform you whether authorisation has been granted or not. Authorisation will be received from the dean of the faculty or from the executive director of a PASS department.

(Updated 1 April) UCT Human Resources (HR) offers many forms of support, including the coordination of services provided by the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) as described below. I urge you to read through the full list of counselling services available through UCT HR’s Health and Wellness web page.


Increased ICAS services

During this unprecedented time, we have asked ICAS to increase their capacity for managing the immediate needs of our staff members. While ICAS on-site counselling is suspended for now, the same counsellors are now available to conduct telephonic counselling. You can access these services by:

  • Calling toll-free for counselling over the phone: 080 111 39452
  • Sending a please-call-me to: *134*905#
  • Emailing uct@icas.co.za.

ICAS recently launched a new online app, ICAS On-the-Go, which allows you to chat live with an ICAS counsellor. The app gives you and your family access to a 24/7/365 Employee Wellness Programme and information to address some of your health and wellness needs.

Connect to ICAS On-the-Go. The code for UCT staff is UNI003.


SADAG services

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group, and its services are available to UCT staff members. SADAG offers free telephonic counselling for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

SADAG offers excellent podcasts that provide practical tips to cope in a time of anxiety.

Should you require their counselling services, please contact SADAG by:

  • calling 0800 171 171 (toll-free from a Telkom line 24 hours a day)
  • sending an SMS to 31393 to request a call back
  • emailing office@anxiety.org.za for a counsellor to call you back
  • visiting the SADAG website for very useful information about how to cope with the daily stresses of working during the national lockdown
  • visiting the SADAG Facebook page to access the Daily Expert Q&A from 13:00 to 14:00

One suggestion from SADAG is to reduce the time that staff and their families spend watching or listening to media coverage. SADAG suggests only following reliable resources such as:

Kaelo

Staff in pay classes 2 to 6 are covered by Kaelo, which is promoting health and wellness through the Kaelo Cares page. Although the onsite UCT clinic is closed during lockdown, Kaelo is providing services in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To access these services, Kaelo members can phone their Kaelo primary healthcare network doctors.

Discovery Health

Staff in pay classes 7 and above as well as academic staff who are Discovery Health members can access the medical aid provider’s services.

(Updated 20 July) Staff and line managers may consider the following methods to validate the need for the 10-day period of self-isolation that is now advised by the Western Cape Department of Health:

1. Medical certificate from doctor / general practitioner

Staff members may call their doctors for a consultation via telephone. The doctor will send a medication prescription (if needed), and instructions in the medical certificate to self-isolate, with the date that the staff member is considered fit/safe to return to work. Staff members should ask their doctors to send this information via WhatsApp or email. The staff member concerned must forward the medical certificate to his/her line manager and Human Resources / Organisational Health or the Organisantional Health Clinic.

2. Medical aid virtual doctor services

Many medical aids enable their members to access virtual consultations with network doctors. Staff should check on the services available from their medical aid providers:

3. COVID-19 Symptom Checker

This online Western Cape Government Symptom Checker can be accessed with a smartphone, laptop or PC and the result can be downloaded as a PDF. The instruction to self-isolate has a date and time stamp and must be sent to your line manager and Human Resources / Organisational Health at UCT, as proof of the instruction to self-isolate. 

4. Living with a COVID-19 positive case

If you are a UCT staff member living with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please send the following to your Line Manager and Human Resources /Organisational Health:

  • the COVID-19 result/diagnosis
  • the results from the online Western Cape Government COVID-19 Symptom Checker instructing you to self-isolate.

(Updated 26 August) Staff members will be responsible for cleaning their own work surfaces, such as desks, workstations, computer keyboards, monitors, phones, shared equipment and crockery and cutlery. They will also be responsible for emptying office bins into centrally located wheelie bins. The cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas should be used. Where possible, disposable wipes will be provided.

Campus Cleaning Services (CCS) will be responsible for wiping down handles on doors, windows and rails in common areas, as well as for cleaning toilets, reception and common areas and lifts. They will also clean kitchen counters and floors and vacuum offices weekly and common areas as required.

Labs and workshops also need to be self-cleaned. Should you require any campus cleaning services, please provide CCS with the risk assessment of the lab or workshop. This will be reviewed by Occupational Health and Safety to determine whether the cleaners may enter the lab and, if so, under what conditions.

Please contact CCS to make arrangements for cleaning if there is a COVID-19 positive case in your office.

Contact details for cleaning team:

Paulina Johnson
paulina.johnson@uct.ac.za
063 058 3496

Mogamat Benjamin
mogamat.benjamin@uct.ac.za
083 775 6016

Marlin Arendorff
marlin.arendorff@uct.ac.za
079 602 0246

(Updated 23 November) The Office for Inclusivity and Change provides individual and online survivor support groups for staff and students who have experienced sexual and domestic violence. Group sessions are held every Tuesday from 17:30 to 19:30 on the Microsoft Teams platform. For more information and to join the online sessions, please email director.oic@uct.ac.za. UCT staff and students are also able to report incidents of gender based violence via the online reporting tool. By reporting, we are able to connect and assist you with advice, counselling and specialist services.

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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 and implement a national lockdown from 26 March.

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.

Frequently asked questions

 

Daily updates


Thursday, 19 November 09:30, 19 November 2020
Friday, 13 November 12:40, 13 November 2020
Friday, 16 October 10:05, 16 October 2020
Wednesday, 14 October 12:50, 14 October 2020
Tuesday, 22 September 14:10, 22 September 2020
Friday, 11 September 10:05, 11 September 2020
Monday, 31 August 12:20, 31 August 2020
Wednesday, 12 August 10:20, 12 August 2020
Friday, 7 August 11:24, 7 August 2020
Thursday, 6 August 18:26, 6 August 2020
Monday, 27 July 14:00, 27 July 2020
Wednesday, 15 July 09:30, 15 July 2020
Monday, 13 July 14:25, 13 July 2020
Monday, 6 July 16:20, 6 July 2020
Thursday, 25 June 10:15, 25 June 2020
Tuesday, 23 June 12:30, 23 June 2020
Thursday, 18 June 17:35, 18 June 2020
Wednesday, 17 June 10:45, 17 June 2020
Tuesday, 2 June 12:20, 2 June 2020
Friday, 29 May 09:25, 29 May 2020
Monday, 25 May 14:00, 25 May 2020
Thursday, 21 May 12:00, 21 May 2020
Wednesday, 6 May 10:00, 6 May 2020
Tuesday, 5 May 17:05, 5 May 2020
Thursday, 30 April 17:10, 30 April 2020
Tuesday, 28 April 10:30, 28 April 2020
Friday, 24 April 09:35, 24 April 2020
Thursday, 23 April 17:00, 23 April 2020
Wednesday, 22 April 14:25, 22 April 2020
Monday, 20 April 17:45, 20 April 2020
Friday, 17 April 12:30, 17 April 2020
Thursday, 16 April 09:45, 16 April 2020
Tuesday, 14 April 11:30, 14 April 2020
Thursday, 9 April 09:00, 9 April 2020
Wednesday, 8 April 15:40, 8 April 2020
Wednesday, 1 April 15:50, 1 April 2020
Friday, 27 March 11:40, 27 March 2020
Thursday, 26 March 18:30, 26 March 2020
Tuesday, 24 March 15:40, 24 March 2020
Monday, 23 March 15:40, 23 March 2020
Friday, 20 March 16:00, 20 March 2020
Thursday, 19 March 09:15, 19 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 16:00, 18 March 2020
Tuesday, 17 March 12:50, 17 March 2020
Monday, 16 March 17:15, 16 March 2020

Campus communications


Virtual graduation ceremonies 13:30, 21 October 2020
Online staff assembly and other updates 15:09, 30 September 2020
Fee adjustments and other updates 15:21, 16 September 2020
Call for proposals: TLC2020 10:15, 26 August 2020
SAULM survey and other updates 15:30, 5 August 2020
COVID-19 cases and other updates 15:26, 5 August 2020
New UCT Council and other updates 15:12, 15 July 2020
Upcoming UCT virtual events 09:30, 15 July 2020
Pre-paid data for UCT students 14:25, 22 April 2020
Update for postgraduate students 12:55, 20 April 2020

Resources

Video messages from the Department of Medicine

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.

Useful information from UCT

External resources


News and opinions


Statements and media releases


Media releases



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Statements from Government



 
 

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.

 

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