Work From Home back in Western Province; circular with guidelines issued

Oct 30, 2020 (LBO) – As a measure to contain the prevailing wave of Coronavirus spread all public institutions in the Western Province and other major townships are required to adopt the “Work From Home (WFH)” mechanism again.

Using experience gained during April – May 2020 under WFH, heads of institutions are instructed to adopt alternative work plans to deliver essential services and other public services.

The relevant circular was issued yesterday (29) by the Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera to all Cabinet and State Ministry Secretaries, Chief Secretaries of Provinces, District Secretaries, Government Agents, Heads of Departments and Chairpersons and General Managers of State Corporations and Statutory Boards.

These guidelines are specifically applicable to Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts where the movements are restricted due to the spread of the virus. Government offices except in these districts and any other vulnerable locations as declared on the advice of the Director General of Health Services, should operate as normal subject to strict compliance of health requirements.

The Secretary notes that all heads of institutions are personally responsible and accountable to ensure that steps are being taken to facilitate all activities coming under their purview to manage the pandemic effectively.

Heads of Institutions are entrusted with the authority to determine the type of work that can be performed remotely and the employees who will work from home.

They should devise a mechanism to deliver work material such as files as well as the necessary equipment to homes of employees with proper authorization.

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Availability of employees for WFH needs to be between 8.30 am and 4.15 pm. This can be made flexible by Heads of Institutions depending on the work/service requirement unless curfew is declared. Heads of Institutions have the authority to re-assign the employees who are not on WFH plans to institutions or Task Forces that require additional human resources.
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Under the said circular, heads are advised to use alternative communication methods in order to ensure effective and successful implementation of WFH mechanism. SMS, e-mail, telephone, user friendly web applications such as WhatsApp and Skype can be used for this purpose. Chief Accounting Officers and Accounting Officers are entrusted with the responsibility of providing required financial allocations.

According to the circular issued by the Secretary to the President every institution that delivers services directly to the general public is required to create an online platform to entertain public requests without delay. Heads of Institutions have the authority to request employees on self-isolation to work from home. Nevertheless, no work should be carried out by an employee who has Coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

The circular includes specific guidelines to sectors such as regional administration, education and higher education, provision of welfare services, statutory bodies and public enterprises and general administration.

This entails to launch an educational TV and radio channel for school children, reserve specific air times for educational programmes in electronic media, deliver welfare services without any disruption and to deliver required services to differently-abled persons and those suffering from chronic diseases to their doorstep.

The circular said that all Government institutions must comply with health guidelines prescribed by health authorities to control the spread of Coronavirus. It also recommends to model each work place as a “role model” for the public to follow health standards.

Heads of Institutions were instructed by the circular that provision of essential services such as port and connected services, Customs, water and electricity supply should continue without any interruption.

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