By Paidamoyo Chipunza
Government has allowed all health workers to work three days a week to cushion them from transport costs.
This is on condition they work 12 hours a day, instead of the usual nine.
The proposed working hours for two weeks are 77 hours, broken down to three days for the first week and four days for the second week.
This translates to 154 hours a month.
In a circular to all hospital administrators, acting Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Gibson Mhlanga said this was an interim arrangement.
It started with nurses, but is now applicable across all health categories.
“It had been suggested in the minute (of a meeting held on December 7, 2019) that the implementation of this interim arrangement was to start with nurses and extended to other categories,” said Dr Mhlanga.
“Heads of institutions who had not yet done so are requested to extend the interim arrangement to other categories of health workers.”
Dr Mhlanga said the arrangement will enable the health workers to cope with the transport challenges until the situation stabilises.
He said it was important for institutions to ensure adherence to the minimum 154 working hours per month.
This must also be done in a manner that does not disrupt service provision, said Dr Mhlanga.
“Members who are not comfortable with the extended working hours will continue with the normal working hours and days,” he said.
Dr Mhlanga warned that days not worked should not be used for locum duties.
Locum is part-time duty done by health workers to mitigate staff shortages.
Nurses started working three days a week towards the end of last year citing transport costs.
Doctors and radiographers later presented similar grievances and the ministry acceded to their plea.