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Public servants on the spot over reckless conduct

By Hillary Mageka
Tuesday, July 21st, 2020
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua has directed all State and Public officers aged 58 years and above to work from home. Photo/PD/File
In summary
    • In the circular Kinyua directed that all meetings of more than four persons be conducted through online platforms such as Weber and Zoom.
    • Where physical meetings must be held, all participants will be required to provide contact details including telephone number, email and physical address.

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

The government has directed all State and public officers aged 58 years and above and with other medical conditions to henceforth work from home.

In a circular issued by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua yesterday, the government directed that the affected officers, serving in job group S and below to stay away from office.

The circular came as the government moved to contain the rapid surge in Covid-19 infections in the civil service, with operations at various ministries, departments and agencies either halted or drastically reduced.

In the circular, Kinyua directed that all meetings of more than four persons be conducted through online platforms such as Weber and Zoom.

Where physical meetings must be held, all participants will be required to provide contact details including telephone number, email and physical address.

According to Kinyua, the new guidelines are in line with measures intended to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In the recent past, Kenya has witnessed surging cases of Covid-19 infections witnessed after mass and targeted testing in various communities and institutions.

The directive to all civil servants aged above 58 to work from home however excludes personnel in the security and other critical and essential services.

A similar directive was issued by Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka in March this year directing senators and staff aged 58 years and above to work from home.

In spite of the tests revealing a number of Covid-19 positive cases, Kinyua lamented that there has been lack of strict observance of the guidelines and measures meant to enhance efficiency in the management of the disease and protect all Kenyans from its effects.

“It has, however, been noted with a lot of concern that public servants have not strictly complied with the guidelines and measures stipulated in the above circulars thereby exposing themselves, colleagues and their families to the risk of Covid-19 infections and fatalities,” he said in the circular dated July 20.

In order to promote social and physical distancing at the work place, Kinyua also banned all congregation except as provided in government directives on Covid-19 pandemic.

The directive also directed public servants to rearrange work places to not less than 1.5 metres between employees sharing an office and minimise walk in visitors except by prior appointment.

“Maintain social and physical distance and record the details of such visitors,” he said in the circular to the Attorney General, Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, Heads of independent and constitutional commissions.

Others are clerk of the Senate and National Assembly, Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Clerks of county assemblies and all Chief Executive Officers of State corporations.

Individual behaviour

Kinyua reiterated that the most effective way to limit the spread of the disease was through basic change in individual behaviour and hygiene.

He directed all public entities to provide face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to its workforce.

This is in addition to providing alcohol-based sanitisers and access to washing facilities with soap and clean water for staff and citizens accessing services.

“Carry out temperatures for all staff and client entering public officers,” Kinyua advised.

“Ensure workplaces are clean and hygienic by regularly wiping surfaces such as door handles, desks, tables, telephones and keyboards among others with disinfectant,” he said.

“Undertake regular fumigation of office premises, vehicles, wash rooms in line with guildelines issued by Ministry of Health from time to time,” the circular  added.

Where the concept of working from home has been successfully implemented, the circular said, such arrangements should continue to apply with clear targets and deliverable for officers.

“Prepare a weekly duty rota covering minimum personnel numbers to ensure business continuity indicating the officers who will be in charge of operations,” it said.

Where an officer is permitted in writing to work from home, there should be clear assignment and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review done, Kinyua noted.

Public officers returning to work after quarantine and isolation will be required to obtain requisite clearance from a quarantine or isolation facility certified by the designating persons stating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19 but shall not be discriminated or stigmatised, said the circular.

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