Return to work rules for workers who test positive for Covid-19 patients
By Cyrus Ombati and Roselyn Obala | May 3rd 2020
The government has issued return-to-work rules to guide civil servants who have recovered from Covid-19.
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua warned against discrimination or stigmatisation of those perceived or infected with the virus, saying it is an offence to do so on grounds of actual perceived or suspected cases in a workplace.
“It has been observed that a number of affected public officers have been placed in quarantine or isolation. Consequently, it has become necessary to provide a protocol for return-to-work for these officers following Covid-19 cases and the guidelines shall apply to all,” he said.
Mr Kinyua said an officer returning from quarantine or isolation shall within the first week of going back to work discuss and agree with the supervisor any changes in the work plan and arrangements to make necessary adjustments.
It will be the duty of the supervisor to notify the relevant officer of any changes immediately they are agreed upon. This is to be based on work performance review.
Taking cognizance of demands of duties, the returning officer may be considered for shorter working schedules while authorised officers are to ensure that necessary arrangements are put in place to recover work schedules for those in quarantine or isolation.
He directed ministries, departments, county governments and agencies to set up pre-work resumption counselling programmes that will instill positive behaviour for the affected officers and create a conducive working environment.
“Public officers shall have access to adequate medical health and psychosocial support offered by the government through the Ministry of Health in line with the Human Resource for Health protocol,” he stated.
An officer placed in quarantine or isolation is required to immediately notify the supervisor, including the facility within 24 hours. The supervisor is to remain in close communication with the officer for purposes of regular updates that are to be treated as confidential.
The conditions require an officer who has been in isolation or quarantine to produce a requisite clearance form from the facility certified by designated persons indicating that he or she is free of the virus.
It is the officer’s duty to present the document to his supervisor on returning to work, and to stay away from the duty station for seven days and comply with government guidelines on prevention of Covid-19.
The guidelines include wearing of mask, social distancing, maintaining of clean surfaces and wearing of other personal protective equipment.
“Officers on self-quarantine will be required to report to their duty stations after the expiry of 14 days. No public officer will be allowed to return to work without fulfilling these conditions,” said Kinyua.
The Head of Public Service said the affected officials may experience fear, loss of sense or belonging, physical and mental stress and therefore will require support from colleagues and the employer for effective adjustment at the work. He said the protocol entails online stress audit teats, visual Psychological First Aid, psycho education and group counselling.
Individual teleguidance/counselling is to be provided by designated counsellors and public service mental health champions in the ministries, departments, county governments and agencies whose contacts shall be provided by the head of counselling unit at the Ministry of Public Service and Gender.
“The employer shall also continue implementing employee welfare and wellness programmes at the work place as outlined in the HR policies and procedure manual for public service (May 2016),” he said.
Supervisors are required to implement the guidelines and submit monthly reports.
The agencies are required to adhere to the health and safety standards and requirements specified in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2007 and other guidelines issued by the government.
“Co-workers should be counselled to enable them fully support their returning officers.”
Kinyua issued the guideline in a circular dated April 29 addressed to the Attorney General, Cabinet Secretaries and governors, among others.
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