COVID-19 resources & information for Public Service Members
Last week, your union sent out a bulletin (read it here) about discussions that we’ve held with the Public Service Agency (PSA) about how COVID-19 will be handled at work. As a result of our ongoing discussions with the PSA, they have issued updated versions of the two documents we shared last week:
COVID-19 News for Public Service Members
April 02, 2020
COVID-19 FAQ for BCGEU members covered by the Main Public Service Agreement
I have COVID-19 and I think I contracted it while at work. What do I do?
If you suspect you were exposed and infected with COVID-19 due to the nature of your employment, you may be eligible to claim compensation for wage loss. Here’s what to do:
Be sure you meet the conditions set out by WorkSafeBC to make a wage loss compensation claim:
- Evidence, either a medical diagnosis in a medical report or a non-medical factual evidence where other evidence establishes the existence of COVID-19.
- The nature of your work created a risk of contracting the disease that is significantly greater than the ordinary exposure risk of the general public (example: an acute care hospital worker who is treating patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19)
- You lose time from work after contracting the virus.
- If you meet the above conditions, file an application for workers’ compensation with WorkSafeBC here, like you would with any other workplace injury or disease. Your application must be made by you - the worker - and not by your employer on your behalf. Because adjudication of claims takes time, it’s best to apply as soon as possible.
- At the same time, claim Short Term Illness and Injury Plan (STIIP). STIIP will ensure your income doesn’t cease altogether while waiting for your WorkSafeBC claim to be adjudicated.
- If your COVID-related disability lasts past the STIIP period, file a claim for Long Term Disability (LTD) to ensure your benefits and pension contributions continue (which your WorkSafeBC alone cannot ensure).
- If you are self-isolating, in quarantine or have been sent home on a precautionary basis, WorkSafeBC will NOT provide you with wage loss compensation -- these measures are considered “preventative” and WorkSafeBC does not compensate for preventative reasons.
- Both the B.C. and Canadian governments have announced financial aid packages for people who are financially affected by the COVID-19 situation. We do not yet know how these measures will interact with any existing benefits schemes.
For more information, visit WorkSafeBC’s website or contact your workplace OHS representative, steward or the BCGEU staff representative assigned to your workplace.
March 31, 2020
COVID-19 information for BCGEU members working for MCFD - Mar 31
Your union, MCFD and the BC Public Service Agency have convened a joint committee to work collaboratively on COVID-19 issues.
This FAQ has been produced with answers to questions submitted by your union.
Every effort is being made to provide updated information. However, COVID-19 is an evolving situation and answers may change over time.
We will post new information as we receive it.
March 30, 2020
Please click the link below to download the PDF of COVID-19 and Droplet Borne Viruses Risk Identification and Exposure Control Plan Template from the PSA - B.C.'s Public Service Agency.
March 27, 2020
COVID-19 update: Information sharing
Twice weekly conference calls have been scheduled between the Adult Custody Division (ACD) component VP Dean Purdy. Conference calls with Sheriff Services and Youth Custody are also being scheduled.
Component 1 executive has scheduled weekly conference calls. The frequency of the calls will be increased if necessary. A conference call for OH&S co-chairs working in jails is scheduled for today. We anticipate these will also continue weekly or when requested.
Dean will continue to update the component 1 executive (local chairs) who will send the information to their respective local executives, shop stewards and OHS committee's.
All important information will be shared with members as soon as possible.
Occupational Health and Safety
It is important that OHS committees at all worksites meet regularly and, if they have not done so already, initiate worksite specific exposure control plans which should include:
- Putting in place separate living units in all jails and sheriff cells for both new intakes and symptomatic inmates and prisoners. This requires two separate living units or cells.
Local 104 chair Brandon Cox, local 105 chair Krissie Hayes and BCGEU OH&S staff rep Brian Campbell are working with the ACD conducting a province-wide risk assessment of isolation living units for inmates who are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19.
- Limiting the capacity of all living units to 40, including officers, and single bunking inmates.
ACD says it is trying to single bunk all inmates, but the ability to do so is impacted by numbers and the size of the facility.
- Social distancing inmates and officers.
This item should be amongst the local OH&S committees' highest priorities. Clear guidelines should be in place regarding social distancing between inmates, and between inmates and officers, including: markings on floors and plexiglas separation barriers on officers' desks.
- Prohibiting large congregations of inmates or prisoners.
- Implementing, to the extent possible, social distancing guidelines in musters. Consider a staggered process or changes over with two officers reading the muster report together on the living unit.
- Postponing use of force training that violates the social distancing guidelines.
- Developing protocols for applying cuffs, belly chains and leg irons.
- Taking steps to ensure that there is a sufficient supply and proper usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Given the close conditions you are often required to work in, it is critical that there be an adequate supply of PPE. We will continue to pursue this issue in calls with your employers.
What if you can't work?
Currently public service employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19, whether sick or otherwise required to self-isolate, are entitled to receive STIIP benefits of 75% pay. Our union is advocating on your behalf to be able to receive full pay when told to self-isolate or when you become infected with COVID-19.
Members who are actually infected with COVID-19 through workplace exposure, should file a STIIP claim immediately, and also file a WorkSafeBC claim.
Please check the BCGEU and Government of BC websites for further COVID-19 pay related information.
Unfortunately, a comprehensive childcare plan for component 1 members who provide essential services is not yet in place. If you are facing difficult childcare issues please contact your supervisor as a first step. If you require further assistance, contact the BCGEU.
Our union advocating forcefully on this issue on your behalf.
The BCGEU and your component 1 executive is continuing to advocate for all steps required to keep you safe and secure at work, and will keep you updated on any COVID-19 related information important to you as it arises.
Raise any COVID-19 concerns or suggestions with your employer and your local union representative, or contact the BCGEU at any time at email@example.com .
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice President
March 26, 2020
These are exceptional and unusual times with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. We know this has impacted many of you in different ways and as a union we are responding and assisting our members throughout this in various ways. If you have concerns about your safety or any other work related issue, please contact your Steward or Occupational Health & Safety Committee member(s). If you are unable to reach them, contact your BCGEU area office or the staff representative directly. You may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, we have a micro site on COVID-19 that provides a lot of information, including relevant links to updates from government and WorkSafeBC. You can access this through www.bcgeu.ca/covid.
Given the unusual circumstances we are in, we encourage as many of the Component 20 members as possible to be working from home. This has raised concerns with respect to the hours of work of members working from home; whereas, they otherwise may be working in the field. It is recognized that accumulating Earned Time Off (ETO) is not necessary for some members when working from home.
To address the concern that ETO will accumulate without the ability to use it, we have agreed to a temporary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the hours of work that will be in place while this situation is occurring. That MOU includes a provision that Component 20 members can revert to a seven-hour day and 5:2 work schedule (Schedule #1) while they are 100% of the time working from home. For those members who do not accumulate ETO, your agreed-to work schedule remains. In addition, if you are required to work more than your seven scheduled hours, overtime provisions will apply (not ETO). For those members that use MOU#6 or 7.5 provisions for averaging, no changes to schedules are needed.
We wish everyone the best through this time and encourage everyone to keep up to-date on this situation (which you can do through our website) and stay safe.
Rob Davis, Vice President
Environmental, Technical & Operational Component
Frank N. Anderson, Regional Coordinator
Download PDF of notice here.
March 25, 2020
Good afternoon everyone,
We have been monitoring the evolving COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation closely.
The role our ministry plays in supporting some of the most vulnerable people of British Columbia cannot be understated. It is our workforce that is critical to delivering essential services and ensuring that people who rely on us continue to receive the assistance they need.
The Union and the employer have been in constant communications during this evolving time, and it is recognized that this is a unique event that requires our cooperation and the collaboration of all of us.
The demands for services will continue to be high, and while we are eliminating as many non-essential tasks as possible, we will need a flexible response to keep up with intakes, phone calls and crisis requests. To meet these demands during this crisis, we will be reassigning some roles and individuals to critical duties as required. This could mean stream moves, or the reassignment of Adjudicators, Quality and Compliance Specialists and Community Integration Specialists.
Please note that any duties assigned to our included staff that go above their classification/pay grid will be compensated according to Article 27.4 - Substitution Pay. Any assignment of tasks in a lower pay grid will not result in any pay impacts and are not permanent.
Work is also underway to establish a roster of staff that will support our front-facing offices to stay open.
We are in unprecedented circumstances, and truly appreciate the flexibility and support our people continue to demonstrate in these challenging times.
Article 29 BCGEU Co-Chair
Article 29 Employer Co-Chair
March 19, 2020
Component 5 and COVID-19: Recycling suspended at BC Liquor Stores
You voiced your concerns, your union raised them loud and clear, and now your employer has listened – effective immediately, the returning of empty containers at BC Liquor Stores has been suspended.
Although government and health authorities currently state that the risk of handling empty containers continues to be low during the COVID-19 pandemic, the comfort of our members remains the priority of your union and your employer. This is a big win!
While this new restriction is in place, please encourage customers to explore alternative recycling methods or to wait until this restriction is lifted. The employer should have emailed you a notice to print and post for customers.
And please continue to follow the guidance of government and health authorities, including consistent hand-washing and social distancing. Should you need any support implementing these measures with customers, please contact your supervisor, steward or area office.
Your union continues to hear your concerns and advocate for their response as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Please email email@example.com to ensure it is treated appropriately.
Kusam Doal, Vice President, Component 5
March 17, 2020
This bulletin is to remind Component 5 members of your rights to sick pay if you have a COVID-19 related absence. Please print and post in your workplace for your fellow Component 5 members.
The Public Service Agency has issued a FAQ document to direct all public service employers how to respond to sick or self-isolating employees during this pandemic. Please read the attached document here and note the following highlights:
- For all employees entering self-isolation following return from travel or who have been medically recommended to self-isolate for 14 days due to possible COVID-19 exposure:
- If the employer is satisfied that your work can be done effectively from home, they are to authorize you to work from home
- If the employer is not satisfied that your work can be done effectively from home, they are to put you on STIIP (Short Term Illness and Injury Plan) for the duration of the self-isolation
- For auxiliary employees: You are eligible for weekly indemnity benefits up to a maximum of 15 weeks if you:
- Are sick with a fever and respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, runny nose), have no travel history or history of exposure to someone who was ill and travelled, and are not able to work from home
- Have been medically advised to stay home due to being sick with a communicable disease (COVID-19)
- Have been given a medical recommendation to self-isolate for 14 days as a precautionary measure because of close contact to a person sick with COVID-19 (spouse or child)
- Want to self-isolate due to an existing health condition, and has medical documentation
This is the case for auxiliary employees during this pandemic even if they have not accumulated 400 hours of auxiliary seniority or have lost your auxiliary seniority. In addition, you will not have the one week waiting period. This means you are eligible for weekly indemnity benefits immediately and will receive the benefit as quickly as possible.
In short, you will be paid (and do not require vacation leave) if you are sick or in self-isolation due to travel or exposure to COVID-19 and are unable to work effectively from home. It is very important at this time that employees who feel unwell stay home and discuss their situation with their supervisor to activate appropriate sick leave.
I encourage you to contact me with any concerns and to visit https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid for updates.
Vice President, Retail Stores and Warehouse Component (Component 5)
Download PDF of COVID-19 public service FAQS