We understand that COVID-19 is causing concern for members in our community. We are monitoring the situation closely and wish to share the latest advice from Public Health relating to international travel. As well, we wish to provide information on relevant leave policies and Collective Agreement provisions and how they apply to absences from work as a result of international travel, self-isolation, and illness.
The following information on international travelers is taken from the Government of New Brunswick’s coronavirus website:
- As of March 13, 2020, all travelers arriving in Canada from international points must self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community. Information on self-isolation from Public Health is attached.
- All international travelers must self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after returning to Canada. If you start having symptoms (headache, congestion, achiness, feeling unwell) or your symptoms get worse (fever, cough, difficulty breathing), isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible and call Tele-care 8-1-1. Describe your symptoms and travel history. They will provide advice on what you should do.
We ask that all staff follow the above directives provided by Public Health.
If you have travelled internationally and must self-isolate for 14 days, you are not required to use sick leave or other forms of leave. Please notify your supervisor immediately of the situation and when you expect to return to work (i.e. when the 14-day period will end). If operationally feasible and approved by your supervisor, you may work from home during this period.
Although the Collective Agreement and the University’s Sick Leave Policy specify a requirement to provide medical documentation, this requirement will be waived for symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing) until further notice. However, for all other absences, the regular sick leave procedures remain in place.
The situation related to the coronavirus is fast-changing and we cannot predict the evolving travel restrictions that are communicated by the federal or provincial government and/or self-isolation requirements at home or abroad. The federal and provincial governments have advised Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Effective immediately, if you are planning a personal trip soon to any international destination, please be advised of the following to help you make an informed decision:
- Travelling abroad means running the risk of being affected by another country’s travel or quarantine restrictions (i.e., not being able to leave that country).
- Should you be unable to report back to work immediately upon your return because Public Health has issued a self-isolation requirement related to your travel destination:
- you will be required to use vacation leave, banked overtime (where applicable), or leave without pay for that period; or
- if operationally feasible and approved by your supervisor, you may work from home.
With respect to requests for accommodation (for example, in the case where an employee requests to work from home due to having a chronic medical condition and being at higher risk of severe symptoms should they contract COVID-19 or if they are primary caregiver for a person with COVID-19), the normal requirement for submitting medical documentation will be waived in these circumstances until further notice. The request itself, however, should be directed to HR.
GNB Closure of K-12 Schools
The Government of New Brunswick announced that effective Monday, March 16, 2020 all schools across New Brunswick will be closed for two weeks. Please note, early learning and childcare facilities, including those located in schools, are not being asked to close at this time.
As a result, St. Thomas University is implementing a special caregiver leave provision to help support parents and caregivers with school-aged children who require supervision. For any caregiver who is unable to make alternate care arrangements, we ask them to contact their Supervisor to alert them to their situation and to discuss the feasibility of implementing a work-from-home arrangement. If such an arrangement is not feasible, in full or part, then the caregiver may request special leave with pay for any remaining period that is required to allow them to provide childcare.
Please contact Human Resources if you have any questions or concerns.
Vice-President (Finance and Administration)