CSA Releases Staffing Advisory -In Response to COVID-19 in Liberia

The  Civil Service Agency advises all institutions of Government to immediately begin to reduce the size of their workforce to the barest minimum possible in order to minimize physical contacts and the possibility of transmission of the Corina Virus. The Agency has also advised that in general, institutions of government  should target maintaining at most 25% of their total workforce as “essential”, while the rest be sent home on “Paid Corona Leave”.

The Staffing Advisory by the CSA is in compliance by deirective issued by President George M. Weah that institutions of government send home on paid leave all non-essential staff to avoid overcrowdedness of work places.

On Monday, March 16, 2020, the President, Weah, informed the Nation that the first case of the pandemic Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) has been confirmed in Liberia, declaring that Liberians have now effectively moved from the prevention stage to one of containment.

In a nationwide broadcast, the Liberian leader urged the implementation of equal measures to match this new reality with specific instruction that the Civil Service Agency essentially introduce the appropriate advisory to all Entities to reduce staffing to only those considered as “essential” under the current circumstances.

“Non-Essential Staff” should be defined as those whose services you can continue to function somewhat effectively without. This category may include some drivers, secretaries, filing clerks, etc,” the CSA advisory said.

The advisory however noted that to declare these categories of staff and others as “non-essential” would means that the “essential staff” staying on will have to multi-task and work twice as hard, realizing that the sacrifice they will be making is for the purpose of ensuring social distancing to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus.

“Accordingly, the CSA issued  a five-count advisory to adhered to as guidance for the implementation of the entities’s emergency staffing arrangement.

The advisory ordered the imediate undertaking of an analysis of services your entity provides and make a conscious decision as to which services are essential and must continue to be provided to the public, despite this emergency.

“This should be the first step in determining your essential staffing needs. At CSA, for example, we have suspended Civil Service Testing / Examinations and asking all related staff to stay home. This is a service that we do not need to provide at this time,” the advisory clarified and noted that the CSA has suspended registration and testing for reasons employment for which the testing is rewuired that the CSA cannot be a critical need at this time,  and and that the  CSA testing days involve a room-full of candidates and proctors, which can undermine social distancing.

For the second count, the CSA directed that entities shall have determined the essential services the intend to provide, and that they will be able to adequately determine which departments of their entities they will need to keep functional.

“However, in these departments you will select a skeletal staff that will perform effectively the range of services you will provide. The following must be considered as compulsory “essential” staff before others are added, including heads of entity and their deputies; assistant ministers (in the case of ministries) and directors and deputy/assistant directors.

Thirdly, “After you have drawn up your list of “essential” and “non-essential” staff, please submit to the CSA via email at seandexter.mlk@gmail.com and rdkallon@gmail.com by close of business on Friday, 20 March 2020. We need to account for all staff and ensure that persons not on Paid Corona Leave do not intentionally absent themselves from work. We also need to ensure that those on paid Corona Leave do not come to work. Note that if you have already began implementing emergency staff reduction measures, it is a step in the right direction, which can be amended with this advisory,” the advisory indicated.

The advisory further directed entities of government to please inform those being put on paid Corona Leave that they are important members of their teams, but that the measures are only intended to encourage social distancing, which is recommended by health experts for preventing the spread of the Corona Virus Disease. “Let them know that they can be called upon to either return to work or work from home, if and when the need arises,” it said.

For the fifth count, the CAS advisory called on the entities to “ Please encourage social distancing among “essential staff” at work by making our workplaces a little “smarter”. By “smarter,” we mean increasing the use of modern technology to interact and conduct business.”

This, the CSA said, can be accomplished through the increased use of phone calls, emails, and social media, rather than face-to-face contact. “For instance, you can communicate instructions through emails, phone calls, and WhatsApp Messaging. If you haven’t yet set up a working WhatsApp Account for your entity, please have your IT people do it immediately.”

In addition to the staffing adjustments, the CSA has also encourage strongly the recommended procedures announced by health authorities and reinforced by the President to include “Wash hands as often as possible with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed or unsensitized hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or do so into your elbow and dispose of the tissue and wash your hands again; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.”

Other measures recommended in the advisory are employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness must be recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [38.0° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants); that employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick and that  as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).

The rest require placing posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen, if the administration can afford, and also providing tissues, soap, and water to ensure good hygiene practices; as well as ensuring routine cleaning of the office environment, including frequently touched surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs, workstations, etc. Provide cleaning disinfectants where possible.

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