Employee health and safety

Experiencing Flu-like symptoms?

Members of the UNBC community (students, faculty and staff) should stay home if you 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 take 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.

Absent from work

Please speak with your supervisor if you need to be absent from from work for one of the following reasons so that the leave can be appropriately accounted for or working from home plans put in place (for salaried employees, regular pay will not be impacted):

  • If you have a compromised immune system and need to self-isolate
  • If you are a caregiver for individuals with a compromised immune system
  • If you are returning from international travel and required to self-isolate

Non-essential travel

If you made the decision to travel internationally for non-essential purposes after the requirement for self-isolation was put in place by the provincial health officer, you will not be paid for the fourteen (14) day self-isolation period.

Working Alone

As the majority of employees are working remotely and there are fewer people working on campus the safety office would like to remind employees of the working alone procedures.

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

Provide security 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.

Working remotely

The ability to work from home will vary depending on the position and the resources required to perform duties. Consult with your supervisor, program chair or dean so that a plan can be put in place and human resources notified of the change. Please check in with the Safety Office if you have questions or concerns about your home workstation setup.

To comply with privacy legislation, physical files containing personal information about an individual must not leave campus. Use the UNBC VPN or VDI pools whenever possible. Contact the IT Support Desk for more details.

Benefits and travel medical insurance

Benefit entitlement and premiums remain unchanged at this time. There is no exclusion to treating someone impacted by the virus vs. another medical emergency.

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

Due to increased strain on the health-care system, you may encounter delays in accessing health services, online clinics or call centres.

Check the SunLife website and mobile app for updated information.

Review international medical insurance exclusions and trip interruption insurance.

Employee and family assistance program

Over the next couple of weeks, Homewood Health will begin to implement telephonic counselling services in place of face to face counselling. In order to continue providing service, but to mitigate this risk, counselling will be offered by telephonic sessions until the spread of the virus is slowed and the guidance from trusted sources reverts to normal.


BCcampus: Adapting to COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people may experience feelings of heightened anxiety, stress, isolation, and more – and this is a natural response to unprecedented times like these.  

To help students, staff, and faculty in the B.C. public post-secondary sector, BCcampus has created a website that addresses the need for mental health supports. All resources developed by BCcampus are openly licensed and published with accessibility in mind. 

In partnership with experts across the province, BCcampus will host webinars on topics like effective online learning, mental health, and resilience. All events will be recorded and stored on the website for those unable to attend.

Please visit Adapting to COVID-19 to learn more, follow us on social media to stay up-to-date, and help share this resource.

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. WorkSafe BC currently advises employers and workers that “special precautions for COVID-19 are not required, beyond the recommended measures to prevent common respiratory viruses like influenza.”

Counselling and health support

Counselling and health support is available to members of our campus community who are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We encourage faculty and staff who need support at this time to seek assistance from Shelley McKenzie in Human Resources.

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 & Wellbeing, 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 have flu-like symptoms or have COVID-19 will be placed on a medical leave of absence without loss of pay.

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 & Wellbeing, 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.

The University recognizes the seriousness of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the strains it is placing on the healthcare system. It may be difficult to obtain medical documentation at this time.

If you have medical documentation, please forward it to Shelley McKenzie, Director of Health & Wellbeing (electronic submissions (fax or email) are acceptable).

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

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