Vodacom and MTN are implementing a number of measures to stop the coronavirus spreading among their employees, including allowing people to work from home.
This comes amidst President Cyril Ramaphosa listing restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, and declaring a national state of disaster.
When the coronavirus was still relatively contained in February 2020, Vodacom warned its suppliers that anyone who had been to China in the last 14 days must be isolated.
Vodacom also said it would implement a soft lock on all supplier staff access immediately until these conditions were met.
Now that COVID-19 has arrived in South Africa and has spread, we asked the local mobile operators how they plan to protect their staff.
MTN South Africa said it has taken a series of precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its employees, customers, and suppliers.
These measures include the installation of thermal scanners at MTN offices to test body temperature, enhanced hygiene measures – including hand sanitizers in all of its offices – and the implementation of work-from-home plans for employees.
MTN said the work-from-home plans will be implemented on a rotational basis, although in certain cases only a skeleton staff will remain at its offices.
MTN SA executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said: “We have taken these steps as a concerted effort to do our part to contain the spread of the virus and ensure business continuity.”
“Just as we test our emergency evacuation processes, this week we have been testing our work-from-home processes to ensure that various business units are well prepared to continue business even in the aftermath of an emergency,” she said.
“We encourage our employees, stakeholders, and customers to remain calm and take the necessary precautions as outlined by the medical fraternity to minimise the spread of the virus.”
The mobile operator assured its customers that the implementation of these policies will have a negligible impact on its operations.
Telkom told MyBroadband it has implemented a number of measures to protect its staff and customers:
- International business travel has been suspended.
- Potential activation of remote work policy, where possible.
- Travel alerts for employees travelling for personal reasons.
- Heightened access control at all Telkom offices.
- Distribution of hand sanitisers at all office buildings, stores, and dispatchable staff.
“Should an employee suspect that they have been exposed, they should consult a medical practitioner for medical attention,” said Telkom.
“The exposed person must ensure that the doctor takes samples and submits them to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for testing and diagnostics,” it added.
Telkom has also asked staff to self-declare any travel to high-risk areas.
“Should a positive case occur, Telkom will follow the appropriate mitigation measures, which may include working from home.”
“Telkom’s emergency response team is monitoring the situation and advising management on the proper action to take,” Telkom said.
“We continue to closely monitor the latest guidance from the WHO, national, regional, and local health authorities,” Vodacom said.
“The health and safety of our employees is our priority while continuing to deliver services and support to our customers.”
The mobile operator said it has prepared its employees to work remotely if necessary and has instructed them on correct hygiene practices to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“Vodacom is reinforcing preventative measures with our employees regarding hand washing, contact, and guidance on internal and external events – including the option of virtual attendance.”
“Vodacom has increased the ability for Vodacom employees to work remotely without disruption and has a dedicated team working to maintain the level of service our customers and clients expect from us,” the company said.
“Cell C has a task team that has been formed specifically to manage risk, monitor, formulate appropriate communication to employees and external stakeholders, devise and implement preventative measures, and report on the spread of the disease,” the operator said.
“A policy has been crafted to guide the company’s response relating to sick leave, travel policies, and restrictions and business rules. Along with that, the company is at work reviewing the ‘Work from Home’ capability for staff members who have the ability to work remotely.”
A risk assessment has been instituted for all visitors to their offices via a questionnaire, and in the event the visitor is deemed a health risk, any planned meeting will not proceed and they will be asked to seek medical assessment.
“When a suspected case is reported, the employee will be referred for viral testing and allowed to work from home until they are given a medical clearance,” Cell C said. “The affected working area will be disinfected as well.”