COVID-19

COVID-19 Updates for Employees

Due to the COVID-19 situation and with the aim of protecting our community, Human Resources will be closed to in-person inquiries. 

Please complete and submit ALL forms and requests electronically. 

Please review the document for sending and receiving personal or sensitive information electronically.

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. For any further questions, please contact us at human.resources@uleth.ca.

 

  • Make self-care a priority. Eat healthy and regularly, get rest and adequate sleep, exercise, and get sunshine. Go outside for a bit each day, even if it’s just for a walk around the block.
  • Stay connected with others even if you must do so virtually. Isolation can enhance feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and anxiety. Social support is a huge protective factor for all mental health struggles, including depression and anxiety. Reach out to your supports often and regularly. Share your thoughts and feelings with others; it’s likely they are experiencing many of the same emotions and concerns as you are.
  • Remember anxiety is a normal response and helps to keep us safe. Use your feelings of anxiety in constructive ways such as to fuel connection with others and care for yourself.
  • Limit access to social media. It is important to find a healthy balance between staying informed and becoming overly preoccupied with COVID-19. Frequent checking can increase anxiety and create unnecessary feelings of panic. Tips for creating balance include limiting time on social media (e.g., checking once in the morning) and seeking reputable sources for updates (e.g., AHS website).
  • Create structure and new routines. Now that classes have been moved to an online format, regular routines may have been disrupted. With so much unpredictability, it helps to know what your day will look like. Make task lists and set goals for yourself each day. 
  • Engage in activities that bring you joy and a sense of mastery. Be creative with your time now that many of your “go-to” activities have been cancelled, like sporting events and concerts.  Maybe it’s time to dust off the board games, pick up the musical instrument you forgot about, or reread your favorite novel.
  • Find a healthy outlet for your emotions Try engaging in healthy coping activities such as mindfulness, journaling, yoga and self-care. You can still go for a walk, or be outside in your own yard.  Other ideas include cooking or baking, spending time with your family, reading for pleasure, creating a new playlist, taking a long shower or bath. Try to avoid turning to things like drugs or alcohol to numb or escape your feelings. 
  • Know you are not alone. There are many resources available if you need more support at this time: 
    • Confidential and free counselling to benefited employees through Homewood Health – call 1-888-713-8623 or on line at  https://homeweb.ca/service/login - at this point, if counselling is the appropriate service for you and/or your family members, you will be offered telephonic sessions until the spread of the COVID-19 virus is slowed and the guidance from trusted sources reverts to normal.
    • COVID-19 Response: Homewood i-Volve for Anxiety
    • E-counselling is also available as an option. 
    • Community counselling and other support services available here
    • Chaplains and Elders are available on campus and within the community to provide spiritual care and guidance https://www.uleth.ca/sexual-violence/cultural-faithsupports 

The evolving news surrounding COVID-19 in Canada and abroad is impacting the way we manage and maneuver through our days, both personally and professionally.

The safety and well-being of our clients, employees, family and friends is always our priority. We are actively monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and are taking steps to share information as quickly as possible, helping to keep our communities safe.

Here are a few tips and facts for those who find themselves working from home as a precautionary measure to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for doing your part to keep our communities safe, and for supporting each other as we navigate this unprecedented time together.

Basic Ergonomic Tips when Using Your Laptop - from Anderson Ergonomics

How to do your own Ergonomic Self-Assessment

Ergonomic Tips

Information on the gradual reopening of Service Canada Centres

Temporary Foreign Worker Program website and the Notice on COVID-19 measures within the program

Temporary Foreign Worker Program - FAQs online

In an effort to manage the COVID19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented a global advisory requesting Canadians to avoid nonessential travel. Further, many governments around the world have imposed their own country-specific travel restrictions.

The Government of Canada announced travel restrictions which are now clearly outlined on their website. These measures are intended to stop non-essential travel to protect Canada from the outbreak of COVID-19. While non-essential travel is restricted, there are exceptions to ensure essential travel is permitted.

The travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government have impacted Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals in Canada, as well as those intending to travel to Canada or apply for work permits or other travel documents during the restriction period. Visitors, including tourists and individuals intending to visit the University outside of a formal work arrangement, will NOT be allowed into Canada at this time.

As these requirements are changing on an ongoing basis, please ensure that you visit the Government of Canada websites for up-to-date information. Helpful information can be found:

Canada’s Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 Outbreak Update from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Work permit, study permit and confirmation of permanent residence requests

The government has also issued a series of travel advisories in relation to the management of the COVID-19 situation for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. For those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, you are advised to contact the applicable consulate and check local travel advisories prior to travelling outside of Canada.

In addition to the official government information, please review and adhere to all University of Lethbridge requirements. Questions can be directed to covid19.inquiries@uleth.ca.

If you are considering inviting a foreign national to come to campus, please ensure you first seek advice regarding the immigration restrictions.

Message from Michael Gottheil, Chief of the Commission and Tribunal
(May 5, 2020)

Countering Racism during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all our lives in many ways. Unfortunately, it has led to an increase in racism and discrimination towards certain groups of Canadians. Since the beginning of this crisis, minority groups in Alberta, especially people of Asian descent, have been the targets of racist comments, threats, and intimidation.

Even though it may be human nature to want to assign blame or lash out in difficult times, we must be vigilant against xenophobia. To fight this pandemic, we need to look after one another by reaching out to our fellow Albertans and showing compassion, care, and consideration.

Fortunately, many groups and individuals continue to address inequity and racism issues in our province. Recently, ACT2endracism developed the Covid-19 Anti-Racism Incident Reporting Centre, where individuals can report hateful incidents in multiple languages, either on-line or by text messaging. This is a timely initiative that will provide immediate support for victims of racism, as well as referrals to human rights and law enforcement agencies as appropriate.

We know that racism and discrimination will not stop when this pandemic ends, and may even worsen for some within our communities. Now, more than ever, Albertans and Canadians need to come together as one to stand up to hate. As we begin to ease restrictions and gradually move toward recovery, it is crucial that all spaces are free from hate, racism, and xenophobia, and that all Albertans feel safe.

 

The Chief’s message is also posted on the Commission’s website, albertahumanrights.ab.ca.

Employee FAQs

Employees and supervisors have been seeking answers to multiple questions. While questions and answers may vary slightly by employee group, and certain individual circumstances will inform how answers may change by individual, the following answers apply generally to most employees.

 

Some employees have already put alternative arrangements in place.  For others, it will understandably take some time for alternative arrangements to be put in place. Employees should be exploring alternatives as more eldercare and childcare options as they become available over time. Employees should be in dialogue with their supervisors about the reasonable arrangements that can be put in place to work remotely, modify work schedules or any other reasonable modification to work.  Supervisors should be flexible and compassionate in exploring these arrangements. There are important equity considerations for both employees and supervisors.

Employees may use vacation, compensated time-off, and unpaid leave to care for their dependents when they cannot otherwise continue to work.  These options are to be discussed with your supervisor and are subject to operational requirements.

Concerns about a new and unfamiliar illness are understandable. Eligible employees can access the Employee Family Assistance Program or Homeweb.

The University will share information with employees to the extent allowable under legislation. The University takes its obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act seriously and will follow all applicable legislation.

The University requires employees to work remotely until further notice, unless required to come to campus to work to provide services to campus.  Employees who have medical conditions (that make them more susceptible to COVID-19) or live with others that may be susceptible to COviD-19, should be given special consideration about finding ways to prevent exposure to the illness.  Additionally, any such employee should be adopting the same preventative measures outside of work as they do at work. Otherwise, any preventative measures taken at work will be limited in their impact.

Employees and supervisors are required to follow the advice of public health officials. Social distancing and self-isolation practices will be required to the extent that is feasible when providing services. Group meetings and in-person meetings should be eliminated in favour of remote access meeting via video or phone. Employees in open workspaces should be separated to meet the distance standards established or be redeployed to private spaces. Equipment such as gloves and masks will be provided to employees as necessitated by their job role and exposure. Extra attention is being paid to employ advanced cleaning techniques to surfaces, particularly in high use areas.

No, under new government directives, employees do not need to produce a medical note to their employer to access paid leave for self-quarantine.

At this point, medical professionals have advised that 14 days is an acceptable limit on the self-quarantine period. If an employee will be away from work for more than 14 days, they should be acting on the advice of a medical professional.  A medical note may be required and given to Employee Wellness, where necessary.

f you returned from travelling outside of Canada the University will require you to self-isolate and stay away from the workplace for 14 days after your return from travel, whether or not you have symptoms. These 14 days will be paid. They will begin upon your arrival in Canada. This is part of our obligation to take preventative measures to provide a healthy and safe workplace.

Unless you are disabled from symptoms or on another leave, employees are still expected to work remotely to the extent possible. Employees should register with the University that they are in self-isolation or self-quarantine and speak with their supervisor about what work may be performed remotely.

Employees should register on the Faculty and Staff Illness Self Reporting Registry.

You should not report to work.  Medical leave benefits in Collective Agreements and employment manuals apply.

If you do not have medical leave benefits, there are new provisions for paid medical leave of up to 14 days introduced by the government and new opportunities to access Employment Insurance (EI) benefits related to medical absences from work.

Ensure you advise your supervisor and register on the Faculty/Staff Illness Self-Reporting Registry.

Yes, and this is dependent on the operational requirements of the department. Please speak with your supervisor.

Yes, depending on the operational requirements of the department.  

Individual circumstances are highly variable, as are responses. Please contact your supervisor and Human Resources:

Nancy Pastoor, Senior Human Resources Consultant:  nancy.pastoor@uleth.ca

Linda van der Velde, Senior Human Resources Consultant: linda.vandervelde@uleth.ca

Shannon Stewart, Senior Human Resources Consultant: stewarts@uleth.ca

Heather Takahashi, Senior Human Resources Consultant: heather.takahashi@uleth.ca

All employees will be paid as usual if the University suspends operations. Hourly employees will be paid in keeping with scheduled hours or hours that would have otherwise been scheduled until April 4, 2020.

Graduate teaching assistants with a fixed appointment will have no change in pay. Graduate teaching and research assistants with a casual appointment will be paid until April 4, 2020 based on scheduled hours or hours that would have otherwise been scheduled.   The University will continue to review this situation.

There will be operations that may scale back or cease services, resulting in fewer hours of work for casual employees.   The University is currently reviewing these situations and will provide further information to the impacted employees. However, scheduled hours or hours that would have otherwise been scheduled will be paid to casual employees until April 4, 2020.

The University is currently reviewing these situations and will provide further information to the impacted employees.

The University reminds everyone that preventative measures have been implemented and resources provided to limit the transmission of COVID-19.  This includes:

  • advising staff and students to stay home if they are feeling ill;
  • reminding staff and students to regularly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and to apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable;
  • reminding staff and students to keep their hands away from their mouth, nose, and eyes;
  • cleaning frequently touched surfaces, shared workstations and equipment
    • provision of personal protective equipment as required,
    • assigning employees to spaces where they work alone,
    • modifying work schedules, including implementing new shifts, rotating the employees who work at the same time,
    • requiring social distancing measures for employees who may be working in groups,

It is imperative that employees and supervisors follow these directions to help limit the transmission of COVID-19.

If an employee chooses to exercise their right to refuse, the University will comply with Alberta OHS legislation for work refusals.

Visit Employment Insurance at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html to find out if you qualify for benefits.

Visit Employment Insurance at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html to find out what documents you need to apply.  People claiming EI sickness benefits due to COVID-19 quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate.  Don’t wait until you have the documents before you apply.  You can get them after you complete your online application. 

  1. If you are still an active employee, the ROE cannot be issued until you experience an interruption of earnings.
  2. An interruption of earnings occurs when an employee has had or is anticipated to have seven consecutive calendar days with no work and no insurable earnings from the employer.
  3. If your earnings will be interrupted, your supervisor must send a Payroll Authorization Form (PAF) to human.resources@uleth.ca to notify Payroll, provide the reason, the last day of work, and request the ROE be issued.
  4. If you experience an interruption of earnings you do not need to wait for the ROE to apply for Employment Insurance.
  5. The ROE is issued electronically to Service Canada, typically within 5 calendar days after the end of the pay period in which you had an interruption of earnings.  
  6. For more information visit Employment Insurance at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html.
  1. If the employee is active, the ROE cannot be issued until there is an interruption of earnings. Refer to “How do I get a Record of Employment (ROE)?”.
  2. If the employee will no longer be active, send a Payroll Authorization Form (PAF) to human.resources@uleth.ca to notify Payroll, provide the reason, the last day of work, and request the ROE be issued.

Human Resources has employees dedicated to helping the community through this event.

For those facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, information about support that is available can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html and https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-supports-for-albertans.aspx.  The Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides temporary income support to workers who have stopped working related to COVID-19.  More information can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html.

For questions about workplace, equity and operational continuity matters:

Nancy Pastoor, Senior Human Resources Consultant:  nancy.pastoor@uleth.ca

Linda van der Velde, Senior Human Resources Consultant: linda.vandervelde@uleth.ca

Shannon Stewart, Senior Human Resources Consultant: stewarts@uleth.ca

Heather Takahashi, Senior Human Resources Consultant: heather.takahashi@uleth.ca

 


For questions about illness, WCB and wellness matters (wellness@uleth.ca):
Suzanne McIntosh, Wellness and Recognition Manager: suzanne.mcintosh@uleth.ca
Susan Roth, Wellness and Recognition Specialist: susan.roth@uleth.ca


General inquiries may be sent to: human.resources@uleth.ca

 

Continue to access the University’s COVID-19 website for the most update information.