As part of our continued effort to keep you informed, this direction has just been released from the Office of the Chief Human Resource Officer. The Correctional Service of Canada will be amending their questions and answer document to reflect the new changes. UCCO-SACC-CSN has continued our push on the Treasury Board to amend their direction on special leave to include further protections for our members who are at greater risk of suffering significant health complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.
Also, we have continually requested amendments to the leave policy surrounding granting special leave when an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as special leave for those who present symptoms, for further assurance that every reasonable effort is made to keep this virus from entering our facilities.
We must credit the Treasury Board for issuing this new direction on special leave, which will ensure that none of our members will suffer financial loss during this crisis. We are cognizant of the future challenges this direction may have on staffing of our institutions and would like to remind our members that these measures have been implemented in good faith, and we must continually think of the critical role we perform on the front line of our institutions, and the added workload these new measures may have on our colleagues who remain healthy and able to work. Furthermore, when you advise the employer that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, a contact tracing process will begin for the protection of all other staff.
Message from OCHRO
To: Deputy Heads, Heads of Agencies (including separate Employers), Presidents of Regional Federal Councils, Heads of Human Resources As the public service continues to implement exceptional measures to curb COVID-19 and its impact on Canadians, we are all working to ensure the health and safety of our employees. Thank you for your sustained attention to these matters. As the pandemic situation continues to evolve and physical distancing measures are expected to continue for several more weeks, I am providing updated guidance today regarding remote work and leave provisions after April 10, 2020. I am also sharing some additional information and resources about positive diagnoses of COVID-19 in the workplace and equipment for working remotely.
Remote work and leave provisions
We have updated our guidance regarding remote work and leave provisions, including the use of ‘Other Leave with Pay (699)’ and it is now available on the Employee illness and leave page on Canada.ca. Employees who are able to work are generally fulfilling their duties remotely, or on-site when critical work cannot be carried out remotely. Managers can authorize ‘Other Leave with Pay (699)’ for employees who attest that they cannot work for the following reasons: (a) they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing related symptoms; (b) are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and cannot work remotely; or (c) are living with a dependant that is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and cannot work remotely. As indicated in a previous bulletin, managers must communicate regularly with their employees to provide clear expectations and show flexibility as may be called for. This update has been informed by the persistent situation, the need to continue to support physical distancing and self-isolation, best practices and fairness to our workforce.
Disclosure and Management of COVID-19 cases
As part of our efforts to ensure that we are addressing cases of COVID-19 across the public service in a consistent manner that safeguards the health and safety of our employees, we have posted more information regarding employer and employee responsibilities to communicate any suspected or confirmed positive diagnoses among our workforce. This information builds on the guidelines that were recently shared with your Labour Relations and Communications communities.
Equipment for working remotely
While most employees have the standard equipment needed to work remotely, the duration of this crisis has led to questions about providing employees with additional equipment. Providing additional equipment to employees depends on the unique context in each department and the situation of the individual employee. Working with the Office of the Comptroller General, we have enclosed a framework to assist in making these decisions, clarifying who should receive what equipment, and how such equipment should be provided.
As always, in making such decisions, we must ensure the need is sufficiently pressing. We must, as well, respect value for money and remain prudent stewards of resources.
Validity period of TBS guidance
This updated guidance, and all other measures announced to assist our workforce throughout the exceptional circumstances caused by the fight against COVID-19, will remain in effect until non-critical business is authorized to resume or as indicated otherwise by the Employer. This may occur at different times across the country, as instructions from public health authorities are issued. We will continue to consult with your teams and bargaining agents as we adjust any guidance as necessary based on how the situation, and the governments’ response to the pandemic, are evolving.
I am grateful for your cooperation during this difficult time. Remember to look after yourselves and your family. Please also remind employees to refer to the helpful content on our COVID-19 site that includes information on safeguarding mental health and working remotely.