Government has reduced working hours for nurses to limit exposure to Covid-19 for frontline health workers, but maintained three shifts per day to ensure continuity of service provisions.
Under the latest arrangement which became effective this week, nurses are now working six hours a day on the two day shifts and 12 hours on the low intensity night shift.
Previously, nurses worked eight-hour shifts.
Working days have been reduced from five a week to three, with four days off between each batch of working days.
Before the reduction of hours, nurses were working five days and then had two continuous weeks off, an arrangement reached after the health workers threatened to strike over the scrapping of flexible working hours by Cabinet the previous week.
The flexible working hours originally entailed working long hours of up to 12 for two days a week, an arrangement that was introduced through a collective bargaining agreement to cushion health workers, particularly nurses, from high transport costs leading to an indefinite strike over erosion of their salaries by inflation.
However, two weeks ago, Cabinet resolved that all health workers should now revert to normal working hours and get compensated for the “flexi-hours” with a tax waiver on all health workers and a risk allowance. But nurses objected.
Acting Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gibson Mhlanga has since instructed all hospital administrators to implement the new working arrangements in a circular dated 22 May 2020.