Information for Employees
Workers' Compensation Act
CNC and employees have obligations, under the Workers’ Compensation Act, to take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and others in the workplace — there are basic expectations during the current public health crisis. These include:
- not attending work and notifying your supervisor if you have flu-like symptoms of COVID-19, or
- if you have been instructed to self-isolate by a qualified medical practitioner (i.e. Northern Health, family physician, COVID-19 health line, 8-1-1, etc.).
CNC recognizes its legal and moral obligation regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. CNC must also ensure the health and safety of the workplace in order to prevent or manage the risk and/or reality of COVID-19’s rapid spread. As a measure to ensure and administer its collective and other employment agreements, CNC may request basic information about your travel plans. This is to confirm whether employees have travelled internationally and, if so, the dates of any international travel.
If you are ill and/or exhibiting any cold, flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms you should seek specific medical advice from public health officials (such as by contacting 8-1-1, Northern Health, or other public health office). Common symptoms for COVID-19 include:
• Fever • Cough • Difficulty breathing • Sore throat • Sneezing
The incubation period is the time from when a person is first exposed until symptoms appear. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is the longest known infectious period for this disease.
If you begin to feel ill or exhibit symptoms while at work you should advise your supervisor or manager for direction about safely leaving the workplace.
If you are not showing symptoms and you have not recently returned from designated COVID-19 affected regions, but you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should contact 8-1-1, your primary care provider, or local health office, and follow direction given to you by those sources. Guidance on when to quarantine or self-isolate should be taken from the BC Centre for Disease Control, local public health office, or Health Link (call 8-1-1).
If you are eligible for sick leave, you are entitled to pay if sick with COVID-19. So as not to over-tax the medical system at this time, we will be excusing staff for sick leave without requiring a doctor’s note if employees are ill or required to self-isolate. Under these special circumstances, the normal collective agreement or employer policy requirements that employees provide medical documentation to access sick leave will not apply. We will be using a self-declaration form when employees apply for sick leave under these special circumstances.
You are required to keep your manager/dean updated regarding the status of any medical assessment or direction you receive from a qualified medical practitioner.
Short & Long Term Disability
The insurer’s policy regarding coverage is evolving. Employees who choose to travel internationally may not be covered for illness that occurs while out of the country or after they return, particularly if they have been to countries that are identified as significant COVID-19 locations. We will be monitoring employee absences through self-identification as indicated above. In cases of illnesses, we will need to review each situation on a case-by-case basis to determine if medical certification is required.
Asymptomatic employees with underlying health issues
If you have not been exposed to COVID-19 but you are anxious about being at work due to pre-existing underlying health issues that would present a significantly higher risk for contracting COVID-19 you need to discuss this with your primary medical practitioner, 8-1-1 or Northern Health to obtain their recommendations to ensure your personal safety. In addition, you can provide a completed self-declaration form, which will be available on the CNC website.
If you are one of these employees who has been instructed to stay away from work, you may be permitted to work from home, if that is a viable option. If working from home is not a viable option, you may be temporarily placed, on sick leave or general paid leave, until further notified. This is a temporary measure and is not available under normal circumstances.
If you are asymptomatic and you live with a family member with a pre-existing underlying health issue that presents a significantly higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and you can’t risk exposure due to the risk of serious complications, you may be permitted to work from home if that is a viable option. If working from home is not a viable option, you may be permitted to taking an unpaid leave of absence or to access vacation leave until further notified.
Please discuss these matters with your manager.
Return to Work
Employees returning to work from illness may be required to provide a clearance letter from a physician in order to return to the workplace. This would typically be for those employees who were symptomatic.
Employees who are not eligible for sick leave or short-term disability (STD)
Employees placed on a medical leave of absence who do not have access to STD or sick leave bank, or have exhausted their STD or sick leave bank, may be eligible for employment insurance. The federal government has taken action to waive the one-week waiting period for employees in quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate so employees can immediately receive EI benefits. Such benefits likely do not cover workers who have voluntarily chosen to self-isolate and are not ill or do not have a legitimate reason to be self-quarantined.
Employees who notify their supervisor that they must absent themselves from work to care for a family member
Normal collective agreement or employer policy requirements apply. Employees have rights to statutory family responsibility leave under the Employment Standards Act for the care or health of a child or immediate family member.
Workplace Health and Safety Requirements
Employers in BC have an obligation to provide a safe workplace under the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. This includes taking reasonable and responsible measures to protect employees from a contagion like the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Unsafe Work Refusal
Under occupational health and safety legislation, employees have the right to refuse to work or to do particular work at a workplace if the employee believes on reasonable grounds that there is a dangerous condition or that the work constitutes a danger to the employee’s health and safety. If an employee exercises this right, CNC will follow work refusal procedures under its occupational health and safety policies. WorkSafeBC is continuing to monitor the progression of the virus. We will monitor the WorkSafeBC website for ongoing updates related to COVID-19 and keep you updated.
Working From Home
In the current climate, a request that employees work remotely is a reasonable measure to encourage physical distancing. If the employee’s work is suitable for a work-from-home arrangements, we encourage making such arrangements. It should be made clear that this is done on a temporary basis necessitated by the current COVID-19 outbreak. Individual arrangements may be modified without notice based on operational requirements. This is a temporary measure in response to the COVID-19 situation.
Employees that work remotely are entitled to their usual pay and benefits.
We will need to ensure that CNC’s IT security protocols are in place. There may be a limited number of CNC laptops available so employees may be asked to use their home computers to accommodate a work-from-home situation. If that option is being explored, we will engage with you to review the request.
Temporary Wage Continuation
If you are unable to perform in your own work remotely, due to the nature of the work or because there is no work available, you may be deployed to meaningful work outside of your normal duties that you are able to do safely. Redeployment will be arranged with the understanding that this is necessary due to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. Where possible your normal regular daily and weekly hours of the position will remain unchanged as a result of the redeployment.
When you perform alternate duties, you will receive your usual pay and benefits. The exception is that if you perform work at a higher pay level you will be paid at the job level for the work performed.
Temporary Wage Continuation – Regular Employees
If CNC does not have the ability to allow you to work remotely due to the nature of your work, and there is no work to which you can be redeployed, CNC will maintain wages until there is clarification and further direction on this issue. This is a fluid situation and you will be notified as the situation evolves.
Our long-term goal is to recover and return to normal operations as quickly as possible once conditions ease.
Employees That Work on an “As Required Basis”
If you work on an as needed basis and you were not scheduled for work, you will not receive pay. However, if you are on a specific term contract, temporary wage continuation will be maintained to the end of the contract period or until the current temporary situation ends.
Casual employees who have been working on a regular basis will also be on temporary wage continuation. In those cases, we will average out their work schedule for the preceding four-week period and pay them on that basis to the end of the academic term, the last scheduled date on which they were expected to work or to the end of this temporary period, which ever occurs first. Student employees whose service has ended due to service closure (i.e. gym staff) will be paid out based on their average weekly hours based on the preceding four-week period.
All possible solutions will be considered due to the fact that many daycares and childcare arrangements have fallen through due to temporary closures because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Consideration will be given to the fact that the virus has a greater statistical negative impact on individuals over 50 or with pre-existing medical conditions; asking family members to help out may also not be a suitable alternative.
Where child care cannot be found, and working remotely is not an option, CNC will continue wages at normal (base salary) wages until there is clarification and further direction on this issue. Again, it should be communicated that this is a fluid situation and we will continue to update you as the situation evolves.
On March 12, 2020 the Provincial Health Officer and Minister of Health publicly communicated the Province’s expectations regarding travel outside of Canada and the requirement for self-isolation upon return.
Employees who have travelled internationally (including to the U.S.) who departed prior to the March 12, 2020 advisory, are expected to comply with the government’s direction to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to work. Employees can access their sick leave in these circumstances. This is because the self-isolation was unavoidable since the travel occurred prior to the PHO advisory being issued.
Employees who travel internationally after March 12, 2020, despite the advisory issued by the PHO and Ministry of Health, are also expected to self-isolate for 14 days after returning. However, due to making the choice to travel despite the advisory, employees self-isolating will not be able to access sick leave. They may use vacation leave, overtime banks or leave without pay during this period.
In cases where the travel occurred after the advisory was issued and where exceptional circumstances existed, exceptions may be considered. Contact HR for more information.
Changes to Normal Operations
The COVID-19 situation is fluid and changing on a daily basis. CNC is committed to minimizing the effects of this virus on staff, faculty and students to the extent that it is possible to do so. We will keep you up-to-date as events transpire. Your support is appreciated.