Employee health and safety


Experiencing flu-like symptoms

Members of the UNBC community (students, faculty and staff) should stay home if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Students should report illness as usual, including contacting your instructor to ask for a modification or accommodation if needed.

Employees should report illness following UNBC’s normal sick leave processes.

If your symptoms worsen, please contact your family physician. You can also use the BC Government’s online COVID-19 screening tool to determine if testing is required. Email wellbeing@unbc.ca to inform the university if you are awaiting COVID-19 test results or have other questions about what to do if you or a family member feel ill.


Absent from work

Please speak with your supervisor if you need to be absent from work. The leave must be appropriately accounted for or appropriate working remotely plans put in place.


Working alone

When working outside regular hours, or alone in an area of campus, please advise Security when you arrive on campus and give them an estimated duration of the work. Security will then periodically check in on you.

Provide Security with your name, the location you will be working (lab or office space), the room telephone number, and your cellphone contact if available. This is especially important if your activity involves the use of equipment, machinery or a potentially hazardous substance.

Security must be aware of your location should an emergency occur.


Benefits and travel medical insurance

Benefit entitlement and premiums remain unchanged at this time. Benefit carriers may have amended their policies and requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with SunLife before travelling.

University employees are provided with a Travel Card through SunLife, which is available on the SunLife app or website.

Review international medical insurance exclusions and trip interruption insurance.


Employee and family assistance program

The University's Employee and Family Assistance Program is provided by Homewood Health. Confidential counselling and life-smart services are available 24/7/365.

The UNBC Health and Well-being website provides more details on accessing services and numerous resources, webinars, flyers and tips you may find helpful.


Refusing unsafe work

As per WorkSafeBC, we have a duty of care for people’s health and safety and to provide a safe work space. The Safety Office, Human Resources, our Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee and unions are good resources to inquire with respect to refusing unsafe work. WorkSafe BC is monitoring and updating guidelines as it relates to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. At present, organizations must have a communicable disease plan.


Questions and answers

What do I do if I have a suspected case or am self-isolating?

Follow the guidelines and directions from BC Centre for Disease Control and/or your health practitioner.

Inform your supervisor and Shelley McKenzie, Director of Health and Well-being, as soon as possible providing the start date of your first day of illness or self-isolation.

Review information from Homewood Health.

Will my sick leave balance be impacted?

Those who stay home because they are unwell and unable to work at home will be placed on a medical leave of absence without loss of pay. If you aren't feeling well but are still able to work remotely, this may be an option. Please confirm with your supervisor.

Advise your supervisor as soon as possible, as you would with any illness.

If your medical condition worsens or your recovery period is lengthened, you may need to apply for medical EI and/or long-term disability benefits. Contact Shelley McKenzie, Director of Health and Well-being at shelley.mckenzie@unbc.ca for more details.

Am I required to produce medical notes related to sick leave absences?

No but if you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, medical documentation must be provided and medical clearance is required prior to returning to work.

Please refer to your respective collective agreement (if applicable) for more information on sick leave requirements.

If you have medical documentation, please forward it to wellbeing@unbc.ca.

What if I don’t get sick leave benefits or am paid an hourly wage and am now unable to work?

Employees without paid sick time can now take up to 3 days of paid sick leave if they need to stay home because of COVID-19. Employees eligible for leave are entitled to paid leave for a total of three (3) days during the eligibility period. The eligibility period is defined as the period between the date the section comes into force, May 20, 2021, and December 31, 2021.

To receive paid sick leave, a completed UNBC Leave Form signed by you and your supervisor needs to be submitted to wellbeing@unbc.ca. Please indicate the date(s) and the number of hours missed. You can do this by ticking the "Sick Leave" box and note "COVID-19 sick leave" in the Explanation near the bottom of the form.

Hourly employees who are working can continue to submit approved timesheets by the normal biweekly Friday deadline by email to payroll@unbc.ca, fax to 250-960-5794, or by dropping off in the Payroll Services Office.

You may be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits with Service Canada. If you intend to apply for EI, please contact payroll@unbc.ca to request a Record of Employment be submitted to Service Canada.

What if my childcare plans have to change and there are no other options available?

You should endeavour to find alternate childcare arrangements. Please reach out to your supervisor to see if alternate work arrangements can be made.