Tuesday, 16 April, 2024
HomeNews UpdateMinister open to talk about nurses' uniform change

Minister open to talk about nurses' uniform change

Health Minister Joe Phaahla has said the department remains “open to engage” on the issue of uniform regulations for staff, including the thorny topic of the banning of headscarves, which has raised the ire of some Muslim nurses and community members.

Asked by NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam whether he intended to intervene in the saga, the Minister said while it was customary for women of the Muslim faith to have their heads covered, not all Muslim women covered their heads.

He also said the nursing profession had members of the Muslim faith who currently did not wear headwear, reports IOL.

On the subject of uniforms – and the withdrawal of the allowance for these, to be replaced with a department-issued uniform – he said it was “the employer’s responsibility to provide the uniform or give a cash allowance if … a uniform is a condition for their work”.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health scrambled to avoid a stand-off with nurses, who had threatened to work in their own clothes if a dispute over the provision of uniforms were not resolved.

Since 2005, nurses had received an annual allowance to buy their uniforms. But on 31 March, a new agreement signed in the Public Health & Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council meant they would be given uniforms instead of the usual allowance, in April, of R2 600 a year. They were supposed to be provided with uniforms by 1 October.

However, in June, the department said it would be difficult to provide the uniforms on time.

Phaahla said an unintended consequence of different suppliers around the country had been a lack of standardisation in colour, material composition and quality of garment.

At a last-minute meeting of the bargaining council, the department proposed to put on hold the supply of uniforms until 2024.

Meanwhile, the department has agreed to pay nurses an allowance of R3 153 by 30 November.

Phaahla added that the recent circular “intended to restore standardisation in the wearing of uniforms, in addition to affirming the historic position of the department regarding wearing of adornment while on duty”.

On headscarves, he said the department was aware of the objection raised by Muslim organisations.

“This is the first time that the decades-old ‘wearing of adornment while on duty’ has been challenged…but the department remains open to engage with any affected stakeholder in this regard,” he said.


IOL article – Health Department open to engage on head-wear for nurses (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Nurses versus DOH in uniform stand-off


Denosa threatens ‘pyjama strike’ over unpaid nursing uniform allowances


Nurses’ headscarves ban slated for January 2024


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