COVID-19: rotation of staff at the discretion of employers

- Public Service Minister hopes for normalcy soon


By Kurt Campbell

Guyana’s public service had commenced a rotation system by which persons working in the public sector were allowed to report to the office at specified times and many of them given the opportunity to work from home due to the COVID – 19 pandemic.

Several months later, Public Service Minister Sonia Parag is reporting that while no official request for the full complement of staff to return to work has been made, some Ministries and government agencies have opted for this option.

She said that based on the current COVID 19 guidelines, the rotation of staff in the public sector remains at the discretion of the employer or subject Minister.

However, given that services to the public is to be afforded as in normal circumstances, the Minister believes that the full complement of staff is necessary to accomplish this.

“Given there was a lull for serval months, all ministries need their staff because they have an agenda to fulfill,” the Public Service Minister said.

She explained that her Ministry is currently conducting interviews for scholarships and so the full complement of staff is needed.  Parag told the News Room that she is satisfied with the systems put in place to ensure the safety of all employees across the public service.

Parag said too that while she understands that the public needs services and are demanding those services, work continues to be done.

“We do need their services and the public needs their services and we have to give what is expected by the public,” she noted.

The Public Service Minister pointed out, however, that some employees face the challenge of not having the necessary equipment at home to carry out their duties.

“This is why trying to get them back to the ministries…while safe distance is kept and sanitisation is done.”

The Minister said the ideal situation for her under the current circumstances is to have all staff work from the office where they can give 100 per cent service.

“I can tell you that we have taken all our precautions and my Ministry is doing extremely well in adhering to the COVID guidelines.”

Back in September, in a departure from the rotation arrangement, the Office of the President had issued a memo asking for all of its staff members to return to work on a full-time basis.

Minister with responsibility for government information, Kwame McCoy had explained then that the move is in keeping with the government’s push to gradually reopen the country and in a bid to ensure that services are provided to the people of Guyana.

McCoy had told the News Room that even the use of virtual technology has not been useful and practical in all cases.

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