QUESTIONS & ANSWERS – Bulletin No. 5
This Bulletin is intended to provide updated information on the new federal benefits that replace CERB, new leave of absence provisions under provincial legislation, and continuation of salary or access to benefits through NCN’s employee benefits plan if a person must self-isolate or develops COVID-19.
- Q. Will my employer pay my salary if I have been advised to self-isolate?
A. Parliament recently passed legislation that created the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. This benefit will pay employees $500.00 per week for two weeks if they are unable to work because they must isolate. Your employer will consider the circumstances and if you have sick leave you may be able to access that leave if you are unable to continue working while in isolation.
- Q. Is there a limit as to how many times my employer will pay me if I have to isolate?
A. Each situation will need to be reviewed based on the facts, the number of sick leave credits a person has, whether they have already received the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and whether the federal government has increased the maximum number of weeks of eligibility by regulation.
- Q. Is Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit available if I can’t work because I have underlying health conditions of if I get COVID-19?
A. Yes, this benefit is available if a person has underlying conditions a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or NCN or a public health authority has determined would make them more susceptible to COVID-19 or if an employee has contracted COVID-19.
- Q. What conditions do I have to meet to qualify for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit?
A. To qualify, an employee must have a valid social insurance number, be over 15, be resident in Canada, have earned at least $5,000 from employment, self-employment, or other benefits in the 12 month period preceding the date they apply.
- Q. Will I continue to be paid if I have to take time off work because the school is closed and there is no-one else to look after my children under 12 years of age?
A. You may be able to work from home in which case you will continue to be paid. If you can’t work from home, you may qualify for the new Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. This benefit is available if an employee’s work schedule is reduced by at least 50% and they cared for a child under 12 because the school was closed for reasons related to COVID-19, the child contracted or might have contracted COVID-19, the child was advised to isolate by medical personnel or by the NCN government or public health authority or the child could be at risk of complications if they contracted the virus or the person who normally cares for the child is not available for COVID related reasons.
- Q. If I work in an isolation unit and have a young family at home, for safety reasons can I refuse to work or ask or an alternate work placement?
A. At this point, the virus has not spread to NCN and the NCN Health team has taken steps so that employees at the isolation units in the community will not come into contact with people who are in isolation unless they are cleaning those units in which case they have proper protective equipment. If you exercise your rights under employment legislation and refuse to work on the basis it is unsafe, there are steps that must be followed to address the concern you have raised. Generally, though fear alone is not a sufficient reason to refuse to go to work.
- Q. Do I have to serve someone who is sick?
A. It depends on your job. If you are in an essential position you may be required to wear protective gear while helping a person who is sick. If you are unsure, additional information can be obtained from the Linda Wright, the NCN Health Director or Maria, Neepin, the Nurse in Charge.
- Q. If I decide to travel to a high-risk area, knowing I will have to isolate upon my return, does my employer have to pay me?
A. If the employer has directed the employee to go to that location because they are essential workers, then they would be entitled to be paid. However, if the person is travelling for personal reasons they would not be paid although in some situations they may qualify for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.
- Q. Can my employer require me to take a COVID swab test each time I return from an Orange or Red Zone?
A. Your employer cannot require you to take a test but the employer can refuse to pay your wages until you can safely return to work. NCN also has a partial lockdown in place and if you violate the rules you may be subject to a fine under NCN’s OIC as well as under federal and provincial legislation.
- Q. Are we expected to do work related duties while we are isolating at home or at an isolation unit?
A. If you are feeling well and have no symptoms, you are expected to try to continue working. In some situations this may not be feasible if you cannot connect to the internet. A decision will be made on an individualized basis that takes into consideration your job duties and other relevant circumstances.
- Q. Do we call into work every day until the isolation period is over?
A. If you are continuing to work during the isolation period your supervisor will provide direction for your individual situation. Generally speaking employees should be in touch with someone at their workplace daily while they are working.
- Q. If I usually commute to NCN from Thompson or Leaf Rapids but I am not classified as an Essential Worker, am I still expected to continue doing my work?
A. You are still expected to work if it is feasible to do so. If you are unable to work because of a lack of internet service or for other reasons, you may qualify for the Canada Recovery Benefit of $500.00 weekly. It is important to note that if a person has income of more than $38,000 in either 2020 or 2021 they will be required to repay a certain portion of the moneys over that amount of income.
- Q. How do we track the citizens that come and go out of our buildings on a daily basis?
A. There should be a contact sheet maintained at the entrance to each building.
- Q. Do I need to wear a face mask or other protective equipment when I go to work?
A. NCN currently requires masks be worn in all workplaces.
- Q. Are employees’ schedules going to change due to capacity limitations in our public buildings?
A. At this time, there are no cases in the community. If cases do occur, NCN as an employer will take into consideration the advice of our public health team. The current NCN OIC outlines limitations on gathering sizes for the various facilities. If our public health team recommends further limiting the number of people in buildings, then there could be schedule changes.
- Q. What happens if I get sick?
A. If you get sick from coronavirus you will be entitled to take sick leave. You will be entitled to access either paid sick leave, EI sick leave benefits or the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. You may also qualify for benefits under our Sun Life plan if you have COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting for test results or if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The form can be obtained from the HR office. You will be required to follow the instructions from the public health nurse. You must remain isolated until you are symptom free. If you get sick from another virus or something else, then the ordinary NCN sick leave policies continue to apply.
- Q. What proof of illness do I have to provide?
A. If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19 then you will be screened and tested if necessary. If you test positive you will be notified and that information will be provided to the NCN Health Director. If you have another type of illness the usual NCN personnel policies will apply.
- Q. Am I entitled to take a leave of absence from work for COVID-19 related reasons?
A. Some NCN workplaces fall under provincial employment legislation and others under the Canada Labour Code. There are some differences in the various legislation but generally employees are entitled to an unpaid leave of absence if they require leave for a valid COVID-19 related reason. For example, if:
(a) the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19 or an underlying medical condition that may make them more susceptible to COVID-19;
(b) the employee is required to quarantine or isolate themselves;
(c) the employee is providing care or support to a family member, as a result of the restricted of hours of operation of a school or daycare; or
(d) the employee is directly affected by travel restrictions and cannot reasonably be expected to travel to their workplace.
Generally speaking, NCN will try to ensure that NCN employees impacted by COVID-19 related circumstances will be given a leave of absence. Benefits during such leaves will depend on the circumstances as outlined in this fact sheet. If you are unsure, please check with your Manager or the HR department.
- Q. If I get COVID-19 will I be able to return to work?
A. Yes, once the NCN Health Director or her designate confirms you are symptom free and you are fit to return to work. If you suffer from long term effects of COVID-19 for example, scarring of
your lungs that causes you to have breathing or other problems you may need to have a workplace accommodation in accordance with NCN’s personnel policies. You should discuss your needs with your Supervisor.
- Q. Will I receive my salary and benefits if I get sick?
A. Yes, in accordance with NCN personnel policies and any additional benefits available through Employment Insurance, our benefit policies or the other COVID-19 benefit programs.
- Q. If my co-worker or someone close to them gets COVID-19 what steps will be taken to clean our workplace?
A. Steps will be taken as directed by the NCN Health Director.
- Q. Do I have to report someone who travelled outside the community or was in contact with a person who had COVID-19 and lied about it?
A. Providing this information may assist in keeping this deadly virus out of our community. While we normally do not promote gossip and other forms of lateral violence in our community, the risks are great and if it is possible to save lives by disclosing this information then we recommend that you notify Linda Wright, the NCN Health Director so she can decide upon next steps.
- Q. Will I be reassigned when NCN declares a partial or full lockdown?
A. You may be reassigned to an NCN business or you may be authorized to work from home. If neither of those options are available then you may be eligible for some of the other benefits outlined in this Bulletin.