Information about managing Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Influenza Like Illnesses at UBC

The UBC homepage, www.ubc.ca, is the authoritative source of information, updates, and communications from the University to the community regarding COVID-19.

This page has information and FAQ for managers and supervisors related to managing COVID-19 and influenza like illnesses.

Last updated April 3 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

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The Top 5 Points for Managers to Consider

  1. Review and share information regularly.
    The UBC homepage: https://www.ubc.ca is the authoritative source of information, updates, and communications from the University to the community regarding COVID-19.
  2. Communicate with your employees the following messages:

    • Promote good hygiene habits. Ensure employees are aware of, and practicing, good hygiene habits. Refer to guidelines from health authorities on best practice regarding hand washing: www.bccdc.ca/health-info/prevention-public-health/hand-hygiene
    • Convey the importance of staying home if ill. If an employee is feeling ill, they should remain at home.
  3. Employees have the right to education about safe work. If an employee expresses concern about workplace safety, please contact your HR Advisor, Faculty Relations Senior Manager, Safety and Risk Services or Okanagan campus Health, Safety and Environment for guidance.
  4. If your unit provides a critical service to the University, understand and familiarize yourself with your unit’s continuity plan. Contact Business Continuity Planning if you have specific questions around your unit’s plan.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the following FAQs.
    The specific circumstances that may arise in your unit or department are contextual and may not be captured within these FAQs. Contact any of the above listed resources for more information.

FAQ for Managers and Supervisors

General

What is the current impact to faculty and staff regarding employment and compensation?

It is important to maintain employment continuity for employees whose work would not have otherwise been interrupted except for the pandemic response. Read the full memo from Marcia Buchholz, Interim Vice President, Human Resources, that was distributed to UBC Executive and Deans on March 23, 2020.

 

Telecommuting Guidelines – Temporary Remote Work Arrangements

UBC has telecommuting guidelines which you can access at http://www.hr.ubc.ca/faculty-staff-resources/telecommuting/. Please review these guidelines to ensure our obligations with respect to employee safety and information security are met. FAQ for employees are also available. In addition, UBC IT has developed an online guide to working remotely for faculty and staff at https://it.ubc.ca/ubc-it-guide-working-campus.

The following FAQs were developed for managers who may have questions about the temporary remote work arrangement guidelines. Don’t see an answer to your question below? Please contact your HR Advisor/Manager or Faculty Relations Senior Manager  directly for further details.

What if my staff member has children at home?

While telecommuting is not intended to be a substitute for dependent care, it may be that employees will have children in their remote work space. Employees working from home are requested to arrange for dependent care where possible and to ensure personal responsibilities are managed in a way which allows them to successfully meet their job responsibilities.

NEW: If employees both need to stay at home to look after dependents due to school closures and are also unable to work remotely, will this be considered either vacation time or unpaid leave?

The university is currently reviewing such circumstances and considering all feasible options and solutions. More information will be forthcoming.

UPDATED: What should I consider when determining whether to allow a temporary remote work arrangement?

Factors to consider include but are not limited to whether there is enough productive work that can be performed remotely; the impact to customer, student, and client services; and the impact on co-workers and direct reports.

If only a fraction of the work cannot be completed remotely, managers may want to consider the feasibility of a rotating roster system where employees attend work to complete what cannot be done remotely.

What are the key safety factors I should consider when approving my employees’ remote work arrangements?

Our obligations as an employer under the Occupational Health & Safety Regulation and the Workers’ Compensation Act extend to the workplace of an employee, including when they are working remotely.

Please view the Telecommuting checklist, available on the Telecommuting page, for each of your employees who will be working remotely.

Do these guidelines also apply to employees in the Okanagan, at Robson Square and at the hospital sites?

Yes, the guidelines apply to all employees.

Many of our employees work at the various teaching hospitals. What are our obligations to meet the protocols or requirements of other organizations in these situations?

Employees working in locations such as the teaching hospitals should follow UBC’s advised protocols as well as the other organizations’ protocols. If the protocols are differing, please contact your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.

How do we ensure the confidentiality of UBC work is preserved in off-site offices of employees temporarily working remotely?

Prior to approving a temporary remote work arrangement for an employee, review the UBC policies and department policies on privacy and confidentiality. Also, ensure your department creates a checklist of all computer security requirements necessary. Review all policies and checklists with the employee prior to the employee commencing the temporary arrangement.

What should happen with employees who can’t work remotely?

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to assess the public health risk associated with the virus. Anyone who is unable to work remotely should come to work as normal. Refer to the Guidelines for Telecommuting for additional information: http://www.hr.ubc.ca/faculty-staff-resources/telecommuting/

Are employees able to access Professional Development Funds to help set up their home office?

No, employees are not able to access Professional Development Funds to set up their home office. As per the telecommuting guidelines on the UBC HR Telecommuting page, employees with a temporary work from remote work arrangement are responsible for maintaining a suitable and secure off-site workspace at their own expense. Furniture is not an eligible expense under any of UBC PD funds.

However, many other professional development expenses are eligible and the details can be found online. Visit the PD Funds page or the Faculty fund eligibility page for more information.

My employee lives across the border in the USA. How do I best manage this?

If your employee is able to perform work remotely, then you are encouraged help facilitate this. We encourage you to be aware of security issues with respect to information being stored outside of Canada. If you require further assistance, we ask you to contact your HR Advisor/Manager or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.

 

Managing employees who may have COVID-19

What should I do if an employee is unsure as to whether they have COVID-19?

All employees should be self-monitoring their health for symptoms. If a faculty or staff member needs advice on whether they have COVID-19, they are advised to call HealthLink BC (8-1-1) or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca or contact their medical health care provider.

Information on the prevention, transmission, symptoms, and treatment of COVID-19 can be found at the Government of Canada website Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

My employee is home sick with fever, sniffles, and chills. Should I or can I ask them if they have been tested? Can I ask that they not return to work until they have been tested?

Information provided by an employee to you regarding their health is generally considered to be personal information under provincial privacy legislation (FOIPPA), and this information should not be shared with co-workers or your employee’s co-workers.

However, it is appropriate for managers to inquire with their employees about the nature of their illness (not diagnosis). The only purpose to enquire about the nature of your employee’s illness is to encourage your employee who may have COVID-19-like symptoms to call HealthLink BC (8-1-1) or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca or contact their medical health care provider.

My employee showed up to work and was clearly exhibiting signs of flu-like and potentially COVID-19-like symptoms. Can I send them home?  

You can request that your employee go home in these circumstances. We are encouraging all employees to stay home if they are sick.

All employees should monitor their health and if they feel sick they should not come to work.

What should I do when an employee advises they must self-isolate because they are concerned they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19? 

If your employee is well and not experiencing any symptoms, you may encourage them to work remotely wherever possible. If your employee cannot work remotely, the time off will be considered time off for medical reasons.

My employee has called in sick and says that because they have influenza-like symptoms they won’t be coming in to work for up to two weeks. When should an employee return to work and what is the procedure?

Faculty and staff should keep their manager/supervisor advised of the situation and their anticipated return date. Following the direction given by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the University will not normally require employees to bring medical notification clearing them to return to work in these cases.  If you have questions about an employee returning to work, please contact your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.

What if an employee has an underlying health condition that may make them more susceptible to COVID-19?

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to assess the public health risk associated with the virus.

However, should this change, your employee may require an accommodation. Accommodation requirements will vary depending on the nature of the work performed and the work location(s). If a request for accommodation is made by an employee, please contact your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.

 

I’m not clear about how to code the pay of my employees who are self-isolating. What do you advise?

The context of an employee’s self-isolation determines how to code the pay.

  • If your employee is self-isolating because they are symptomatic, their pay should be coded as medical leave (paid or unpaid depending on whether they have medical leave available).
  • If your employee is self-isolating because they have returned to Canada after travelling, we are encouraging that employees work remotely if they are asymptomatic. If they can’t work remotely and they are asymptomatic, employees are expected to use vacation time or unpaid leave. If you are uncertain about your situation please call your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.
  • If your employee has come in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and they are self-isolating but are asymptomatic, they should work remotely if possible. If they cannot work remotely, their pay should be coded as sick leave. If they are symptomatic it is also sick leave.
  • If your employee has come into contact with someone who is symptomatic, there is no requirement for them to self-isolate at this time. Rather they should be monitoring their health and if they become symptomatic, they should stay home and be paid sick leave.
  • If your employee is self-isolating because they have a family member who has returned from travel and they are required to self-isolate, they should work remotely if possible. If they cannot work remotely, we ask you to consult with your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.

 

Mental health supports and resources

What mental health supports and resources are available for faculty and staff?

There are a number of mental health resources available at the university:

If you are a staff or faculty member working closely with students, visit this mental health resource: https://facultystaff.students.ubc.ca/health-wellbeing/assisting-students-distress 

A number of community mental health resources include:

If you are travelling and require emotional support for yourself and/or your dependents, UBC Employee and Family Assistance Program plan members and their dependents can contact Lifeworks by Morneau Shepell at 1-800-387-4765. UBC also works with iSOS to advise and support travelling students, faculty, and staff.

Reporting COVID-19

Who should I contact if an employee advises they have COVID-19?

Please contact your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager. 

What are the privacy concerns?

Information provided by an employee to you regarding their health is generally considered to be personal information under provincial privacy legislation (FOIPPA), and this information should not be shared with co-workers or your employee’s co-workers.

What should I do if an employee has concerns about another employee who they believe is displaying COVID-19 symptoms?

If an employee is displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19, discuss with them the need for them to stay home if they exhibit the symptoms associated with COVID-19.

As a reminder, it is appropriate for employees to raise such concerns with you as the manager, however, it is not appropriate for you to engage in any further discussion regarding another employee’s medical circumstances.

Does an employee have the right to refuse unsafe work?

Yes, all employees have a right to refuse to perform unsafe work as long as it is based on a reasonable belief. However, should an employee advise you that they feel their working conditions are unsafe, please contact Safety and Risk Services or Okanagan campus Health, Safety and Environment prior to granting any accommodations or making adjustments to the employee’s work situation.

Leave provisions

What should I do if an employee has exhausted their entitlement to paid sick leave?

The university has approved temporary measures for employees who do not have access to paid sick leave as part of their employment, as well as those who have used up their paid sick bank.

Faculties/Departments should provide paid sick leave for COVID-related symptoms until April 30, 2020 for up to 10 consecutive days within the 14-day self-isolation period. This approach will be reassessed at the end of April. For employees who have sick leave provisions as part of their employment but have used up all of their sick leave, any sick time taken will be deducted from their future sick leave accruals. Discuss this funding option with employees who don’t have paid sick leave provisions, or who have utilized their sick bank and have no sick time remaining. Information on the process for administering this approach is at http://www.hr.ubc.ca/memos.

If an employee advises me that they will be away from work to care for family members with COVID-19, will they be entitled to paid leave?

The provisions for paid leave to care for dependents can be found in the various employment agreements: http://www.hr.ubc.ca/faculty-staff-resources/collective-agreements/. You can also contact your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.

What other resources are available for my employees who are affected by influenza like illnesses, including COVID-19?

Recognizing that any kind of illness or outbreak may impact the mental wellbeing of our employees, it is important to remind employees about UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). UBC’s EFAP provider has alternate methods of counseling including telephonic and e-counseling services. Information with regard to accessing these services is available at www.hr.ubc.ca/wellbeing-benefits/benefits/details/employee-family-assistance-program/.

Business Continuity Planning

My unit provides a critical service to the university. What assistance is available to me in planning for a potential pandemic?

UBC Safety and Risk Services are able to support you with your business continuity planning. More information at https://ready.ubc.ca/get-prepared/continuity-planning/ 

I have started my business continuity planning and it includes the possibility of contracting services that are normally provided by employees. What do I need to consider?

If your continuity planning requires the work that is specialized, or requires your employees to be certified such that you will need to contract the work out if your staffing levels fall short of the identified critical service levels, please immediately contact Human Resources through your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.

The critical services my unit provides does not require specialized skills or training. What resources are available to me should my staffing levels fall short?

If the critical services you provide do not require trained or certified staff, and you are not able to re-deploy others within your unit to reach the appropriate critical service levels, you can contact Hiring Solutions at 604.822.8107 for assistance in accessing additional staff. More information about Hiring Solutions: https://www.hr.ubc.ca/hiring-solutions/contact/ In the Okanagan, contact your Human Resources Advisor.

Travel

A guide has been developed with a summary of key travel guidance, as well as support services and processes to identify, assess and control travel risk, including risks associated with COVID-19. You can access the guide at https://finance.ubc.ca/sites/finserv.ubc.ca/files/FacultyStaff_Travel_Guide.pdf

Are there any travel restrictions in place at this time relating to COVID-19?  Where can advise my faculty and staff to find more information on travel health advisories and healthy travel?

Faculty and staff should check for any travel health advisories at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories in advance of travelling. UBC also works with a service provider, International SOS (iSOS), to advise and support travelling students, faculty, and staff.

If you have concerns about travelling, or require more information, visit https://finance.ubc.ca/travel/plan/travel-safety

Who do faculty and staff call or refer to for questions about their extended health plan coverage if they plan to travel?

Faculty and staff enrolled in the UBC Extended Health Plan can find information on the out-of-province/Canada through various channels:

UBC’s group number is 25205 and the certificate / member is the employee’s 7-digit employee ID.

Who should my faculty or staff contact if they are already travelling and have become ill?

If you are enrolled in the UBC Extended Health Plan and require emergency medical assistance (business or personal travel), contact Sun Life’s Out-of-Country emergency assistance provider, Allianz Global Assistance. For instructions, please visit: http://www.hr.ubc.ca/wellbeing-benefits/benefits/details/travel/emergency-medical-coverage/#situation 

If you are travelling and require emotional support for yourself and/or your dependents, UBC Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) plan members and their dependents can contact Lifeworks by Morneau Shepell at 1-800-387-4765. UBC also works with iSOS to advise and support travelling students, faculty, and staff.

If you have concerns about travelling, or require more information, visit https://finance.ubc.ca/travel/plan/travel-safety.

An employee was on vacation and traveling, and has become ill. What happens to their vacation time?

Whether the time should be treated as vacation or leave for medical reasons is both contextual and related to their terms and conditions of employment. Please contact your HR Advisor or Faculty Relations Senior Manager for guidance.

My employee has advised me that they are planning to travel outside of Canada in the forseeable future, or that they have just returned from outside of Canada. What should I advise them?

Since the Provincial Medical Officer has required all British Columbians to self-isolate after returning from a trip outside of Canada, you must advise your employee to remain self-isolated for 14 days following their return. If your employee is asymptomatic and they are able to perform work from home, you are encouraged to facilitate remote working arrangements where possible.

If the employee becomes ill during the self-isolation, it will become medical leave.

My employee was travelling in another country on vacation and now cannot fly back Canada. What are the options with respect to pay?

It is important in these circumstances to be clear about an employee’s status. In this case, the employee is, in essence, requesting a leave from work. Normally an employee would be expected to extend their vacation time or take an unpaid leave. It is understood this may have significant financial consequences for an employee. If you are still concerned we encourage you to reach out to your HR Advisor/Manager or Faculty Relations Senior Manager.


Additional contacts at UBC Okanagan

For university-wide pandemic and continuity planning, contact UBCO Campus Operations and Risk Management at https://finance-operations.ok.ubc.ca/corm/ or 250-807-8624.

For health and safety concerns, contact UBCO Health, Safety and Environment at https://hse.ok.ubc.ca/ or by email at HSE.OK@ubc.ca

For HR-related concerns, contact the UBCO Human Resources Advisors at https://hr.ok.ubc.ca/contact/ or 250-807-9839.

For medical absences and accommodation concerns, contact UBCO Workplace Reintegration and Accommodation Program at https://hr.ok.ubc.ca/health-wellbeing/wrap/ or 250-807-9543.


Please continue to visit https://www.ubc.ca regularly, as this is the authoritative source of information, updates, and communications from the University to the community regarding COVID-19.