The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has introduced new office hours to improve services to the public.

Office hours will be from 7.30am to 4.30pm, including a 30-minute lunch break. However, opening and closing hours for serving clients will be from 8am to 4am.

The new opening and closing hours for the public will be operational from Monday, 23 March 2015.

Addressing the media in Cape Town on Wednesday, Home Affairs Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, said the decision on new opening and closing hours followed an extensive consultative process with organized labour as well as benchmarking with the relevant internal and external stakeholders.

It was decided that two shifts will be required to ensure the successful implementation of the new office hours.

The first shift will commence at 7.30am and end at 4pm. The second shift will commence at 9am and end at 4.30pm. Both shifts will include a 30-minute lunch break.

Apleni said the new opening and closing hours will benefit the department’s clients, managers, staff members and the organisation as a whole.

“Importantly, the new opening and closing hours will afford managers and staff sufficient time to interact with each other on service delivery matters and front office operations,” he said.

Apleni said with the new opening and closing hours, staff members will still work a 40-hour week spread over six days, Monday to Saturday, and work only two Saturdays a month.

“This also means that the new opening and closing hours will not change the maximum number of hours DHA officials are required to work,” he said.

With the new times, all staff will still work 40 hours a week.

Staff members on the 7:30am to 4pm shift will work a 40-hour week from Monday to Friday. Those on the 9am to 4.30pm shift will work 35 hours from Monday to Friday and five hours on a Saturday.

The Saturday shift will commence at 8am and end at 1pm for staff members, and from 8.30am to 12.30pm for service to members of the public.

Apleni said staff members will alternate between the two shifts, thus ensuring flexibility with regard to the Saturday shift.

“The new opening and closing hours will undoubtedly be of benefit to clients and DHA staff. Our clients will spend less time in queues.

“These changes are a part of the department’s broader drive to improve the quality of service to clients. We are well aware that our environment is remarkably different from many others in government and [there’s] no one size fits all, hence this homemade solution for the enhancement of our service delivery obligations,” he said. –