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Last updated: July 30, 2020
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Contents

Returning to the Workplace 

  • When will employees be returning to the workplace?
    Employees will gradually return to the workplace throughout phases 3 and 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan. Ministries will direct employees on the expectations for returning to the workplace, including when and the new safety protocols in place. Employees may be asked to return to the workplace at different times to accommodate a gradual approach for a safe return.

  • Why are we returning to workplaces when the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan says that we should continue working from home if we can do so effectively?
    Saskatchewan has been successful in flattening the curve, and we have been given the go-ahead to begin to bring people back into workplaces, adhering to the safety guidelines as outlined by the Chief Medical Health Officer. Employees will gradually return to the workplace throughout phases 3 and 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.
  • Are employees coming back to the workplace all at once?
    Employees will gradually return to the workplace throughout phases 3 and 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan. Employees may be asked to return to the workplace at different times to accommodate a gradual approach for a safe return.

  • How will I know when I'm returning to the workplace?
    Managers will direct employees on the expectations for returning to the workplace, including timing of employees' return and the new safety protocols in place.
  • I don't have childcare. Can I continue to work from home?
    Employees will gradually return to the workplace throughout phases 3 and 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan. Managers will consider operational needs and the circumstances and needs of their employees to accommodate a gradual approach for a safe return. Managers can refer to the Return to the Workplace Guidelines to help make decisions on returning employees to the workplace. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.

  • I've been asked to return to the workplace, do I have to go?
    Employees are expected to carry out their duties, as assigned. The employee should discuss the reason they may be unable to return to the workplace with their manager. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
  • Can I continue to work from home permanently?
     Employees will gradually return to the workplace throughout phases 3 and 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan. Managers will consider operational needs and the circumstances and needs of their employees to facilitate a gradual approach for a safe return. Managers can refer to the Return to the Workplace Guidelines to help make decisions on returning employees to the workplace. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
  • Do I have to return to the workplace if I have a pre-existing condition/compromised immune system?
    If an employee is unable to return to the workplace due to a medical concern, they should work with their manager and HR Business Partner through the Be At Work Program's medical accommodation process.
  • If I have a family member who has a compromised immune system and I am concerned about bringing home COVID-19, can I stay home from work?
    Once safety protocols are in place employees will be gradually returning to work. It is important for employees and managers to have conversations about individual circumstances that may affect your return date. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
  • If employee is afraid to come to work because of personal health circumstances, how should a manager respond?
    Once safety protocols are in place employees will be gradually returning to work.  It is important for employees and managers to have conversations about individual circumstances. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
  •  I don't want to return to the workplace until there is a vaccine, do I have to?
    Yes, once safety protocols are in place employees will be gradually returning to work.  The employee should discuss their concerns with their manager. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
  • If I am on a definite leave of absence due to child or dependent care and childcare is re-opening on June 8, do I have to return to the workplace?
    It is important for employees and managers to have conversations about individual circumstances. Employees will gradually return to the workplace throughout phases 3 and 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
  • Can I start work early to maintain physical distancing?
    In order to ensure employees are able to maintain physical distancing, managers and employees may want to adjust start and stop times. Managers who are considering adjusting start and stop times must discuss options with their employees. Employees and managers at the local level may agree to adjust start and stop times.  Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
  • I work in a cubicle. How can I maintain physical distancing?
    The safety of our employees and clients continues to be our top priority as employees start returning to the workplace. A number of safety procedures and guidelines are in place to ensure the safety of employees and clients. Information about cubicle workstations is available in the Health, Safety and Wellness Checklist for Workplaces and the Employee Checklist for Returning to the Workplace.
  • How will workplaces be cleaned?
    Government is ensuring janitorial service providers in government owned and leased spaces adhere to enhanced cleaning standards, including regular disinfection of fixtures and high-touch surfaces. Employees are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their desks and desktop equipment. For more information, refer to Return to the Workplace Guidelines; Health, Safety and Wellness Checklist for Workplaces; Employee Checklist for Returning to the Workplace; About Government Workspaces.
  • Will cleaning supplies be provided?
    Hand sanitizer, disinfecting products and paper towels will available in common areas of buildings.
  • What if an employee comes to work exhibiting symptoms of illness?
    If an employee is exhibiting symptoms consistent with flu or cold, they can be directed to go home, either to work from home or on approved sick leave until they are better. The employee should also be advised to contact their health provider’s office. Managers should arrange for disinfecting of the employee’s workspace and equipment.
  • If an employee is being tested, do we notify other employees?
    When individuals are in contact with another individual who has contracted the virus, Public Health will advise contacts who need to know and subsequently self-isolate. Practice discretion and respect confidentiality. For more information, refer to Q&A for Employers: Role of Public Health in COVID-19 Case and Contact Follow-up.

  • Do my summer travel plans affect returning to the workplace?
    Employees are encouraged to follow public health recommendations on travel. Workplaces have implemented safety procedures to ensure the safety of employees and clients when returning to the workplace. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner to discuss specific situations. For more information, please refer to the current travel rules.

  • Can we have in-person meetings?
    Meetings should be conducted virtually if possible and physical distancing must be maintained in the workplace. Ministries are implementing a number of safety procedures and guidelines in order to return employees to the workplace. Employees and managers must understand and comply with all safety requirements. Refer to the Health, Safety and Wellness Checklist for Workplaces.
  • What if there's another outbreak, will we be sent home again?
    Government of Saskatchewan will take direction from public health and implement its recommendations.

Masks - New

  • When should employees wear non-medical masks?
    In order to support employee safety, we are recommending that employees wear a mask when two metres of physical distancing cannot be maintained. In particular, employees are strongly encouraged to wear masks when riding in elevators.
  • Why is government recommending employees wear non-medical masks?
    This is in order to support employees' safe return to the workplace and is in alignment with the Chief Medical Health Officer's recommendation to wear a non-medical mask when two metres of physical distance cannot be maintained.

  • Do I have to wear a mask when riding in an elevator?
    Employees are strongly encouraged to wear masks when riding in elevators.

  • What if I don't want to wear a mask in an elevator?
    Employees who do not wish to wear a mask in elevators may also take the stairs or wait for an empty elevator in order to maintain two metres of distance from other people.

  • Will government provide me with a mask?
    Yes. Each ministry is purchasing masks and they will be available for employees. Employees will be responsible for the care of their own cloth masks.

  • Can I wear my own mask?
    Yes. Employees are welcome to wear their own cloth or disposable masks. Cloth masks should comply with Health Canada guidelines. Employees will be responsible for the care of their own masks.

  • How do I put on and take off my mask safely?
    Information on how to put on and take off (don and doff) your mask safely is available on Taskroom or the Health Canada website.

  • How do I care for a cloth mask?
    Information on how to care for and clean your cloth mask is available on Taskroom or the Health Canada website.

  • What do I do if I forget or lose the cloth mask my employer gave me?

    Each employee must be responsible for carrying and looking after their own mask. Disposable masks may be available in some areas. Employees will be responsible to replace lost masks provided by government. 

    If you do not have a mask with you, employees are encouraged to take the stairs or wait for an empty elevator in order to maintain two metres of distance from other people.

  • What do I do if I get in an elevator and some people are not wearing masks?
    At this time mask wearing on an elevator is not mandatory, but is strongly encouraged when two metres of distance cannot be maintained. Employees may also take the stairs or wait for the next elevator. The public or clients visiting the building may not have masks available to them.

  • Why isn't government making the use of masks in the workplace mandatory?
    We are following the Chief Medical Health Officer's recommendation to wear a non-medical mask when two metres of physical distance cannot be maintained. We will continue to review public health guidance as we move forward.
  • What do I do if I have already been assigned a medical grade mask or other personal protective equipment?
    Employees assigned medical grade masks or personal protective equipment based on workplace hazard assessments should continue to use personal protective equipment as directed by managers, to fulfill their duties.

    These employees are also encouraged to wear non-medical masks at times when PPE is not required, but two metres of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

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Redeployment

  • Which ministry pays a redeployed employee's expenses?
    When employees are redeployed, their home ministry will cover all salaries and expenses. Ministries are to code expenses to the COVID-19 Pandemic Code #902117 and track these expenses. If reimbursements are required, this will be done when the pandemic response is over.
  • When employees are redeployed, who covers employee's salary
    The home ministry will cover employee salaries when employees are deployed. The Public Service Commission is tracking the start and stop dates for all deployments and if reimbursements are required, they will be dealt with at the end of the pandemic response.
  • Is government planning to move employees around to different jobs because of COVID-19?
    Yes. Government has already begun moving employees who are available to meet the increased demands for critical public services
     
  • Can employees be re-assigned other duties?
    Where operational considerations warrant, employees may be assigned other duties.
  • If assigned other duties, how will employees be compensated?
    If the assignment is at a higher level, the appropriate provisions for TAHD or Out-of-Scope temporary substitution apply. If the assignment is a lower level, the employee will continue to be paid their regular salary.

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Working from home

  • Do I still have to pay for my parking spot while I’m working from home?
    Yes. Employees must continue to pay for their parking spot if they want to retain it. If employees wish to stop incurring a parking charge, they can choose to give up their spot and be placed on a waitlist if they would like a parking spot in the future. Please contact your ministry’s Corporate Services area for information on parking in your ministry.

  • Can in-scope employees work flexible hours?
    Yes. The unions and management have agreed to allow flexibility of hours of work for in-scope employees who are working from home . Upon mutual agreement between a manager and employee, an employee may be allowed to adjust their start and stop times throughout the day, to facilitate working at home where operationally possible. For example, an office worker who typically works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. may work sporadically throughout the day, before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. to balance childcare and get their eight hours in.

    Employees must continue to put in their usual number of hours.
    Arrangements must be approved by the manager and meet operational needs.
    Employees will not be paid shift differential or weekend premium on these flexible hours.
    Daily overtime must still be approved by the manager.
  • If an in-scope employee is working flexible hours, what do they enter on their timecard?
    B2 employees (Permanent Full-time) – Office employees typically only enter exceptions on their timecard (i.e. vacation, sick leave) and can continue to enter their time as they always have. Field and Regulated (including Shift) employees will continue to enter their time as they always have.

    B1 employees (Permanent Part-time, Term, Labour Service) record all time of their timecard and should continue to enter their regular hours on their timecard (i.e. 8:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 17:00). Do not enter the flexible hours you are working or you will activate additional shift differential and weekend premium timecodes. 

    Note: this does not apply to employees who have been redeployed to other roles. Those employees enter the time worked for the redeployed role.

    NOTE: This only applies to employees who are working flexible hours in their own role, to enable them to work from home.

  • Can I claim household expenses, such as a portion of utility costs or mortgage/rental payments, as tax deductions when I'm working from home due to COVID-19?
    Canada Revenue Agency has not confirmed that expenses related to working from home during this time will be considered tax deductible expenses for the 2020 tax year. CRA has said that the normal form (T2200) is for employees who permanently work from home and does not apply in this emergency situation. Employees may wish to keep receipts for expenses incurred when working from home in case there are changes to allowable expenses during the pandemic.

  • I am out of paid time off entitlements but am not able to return to work.  Should I enter leave without pay on my timecard or request a leave of absence?
    This would depend on the length of time you anticipate being away. Entering leave without pay on a timecard has implications to benefits and is therefore intended for short-term (less than 2 weeks) or incidental days of leave. If you anticipate that you will be away for longer than two (2) weeks, it is recommended you request a definite leave of absence.

    By going on a leave you will be issued a Record of Employment, you will have the option to make up pension arrears for the period of leave when you return, your dental and health benefits will be maintained for one year and you will have the option to continue your Group Life Insurance while on leave.

    Disability insurance, it is optional for out-of-scope and CUPE employees. It is mandatory for SGEU employees to pay Long Term Disability premiums for the first year of a leave of absence. 

    If you are uncertain of the date of return, if it is related to COVID-19, it is suggested you request a minimum of four (4) months, or eight (8) bi-weekly pay periods, which aligns with current federal emergency benefits. You can request to return early or extend your leave, as required.
  • I have specialized equipment in my office. Can I take it home?
    Employees should consult with their manager if they have specific equipment in their office that they need when working from home (i.e. braille reader, specialized mouse or keyboard). Decisions on equipment will be made on a case-by-case basis. The goal is to ensure the health and safety of employees while minimizing cost. Equipment required for a medical accommodation would be prioritized. Managers should contact their HR Business Partner for guidance.
  • Is an employee covered by WCB if they're working from home?
    Yes. As long as the employee is performing authorized duties in an authorized location during authorized hours they are covered by Worker's Compensation Board (WCB). It is important for managers to always confirm with employees that safe work procedures are known and followed, and the employee is properly equipped. 
  • Can employees I work remotely from a location outside Saskatchewan?.
    Managers should be aware that WCB coverage may not extend to employees working remotely outside the province.  Managers can contact their HR Business Partner Team for advice.
  • If an employee experiences a safety incident while working from home, should they fill out Form 101?
    Incidents that occur at home during the course of work can be submitted on Form 101 through the Incident Reporting and Investigation App in PSC Client on any internet connected device. Investigations may be conducted between employee and manager via email, telephone and Skype. See OHS Incident Reporting and Investigation (818).

 

Self-isolation/sick leave

  • How do employees know if they should self-isolate?
    All travelers returning from outside of Canada are subject to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation order. Anyone identified by public health as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 shall go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days from the date of having been exposed. Additionally, the Government of Saskatchewan recommends self-monitoring for symptoms if you have travelled outside of Saskatchewan, but within Canada. If you have or develop acute respiratory or flu-like symptoms, contact HealthLine 811. Refer to Saskatchewan.ca for more information on self-isolation.
  • When employees are required to self-isolate in accordance with public health guidelines, will they be paid?
    Employees who are able to work from home must work from home. If working from home isn't possible, then employees may access sick leave credits whether or not they are showing symptoms of illness. If an employee thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19 through the workplace, they should talk to their manager. Managers should consult their HR Business Partner for advice.
  • What if employees who are required to self-isolate in accordance with public health guidelines don't have sick leave credits available?
    Employees may request other forms of paid leave, e.g. vacation, banked time, SDOs. Employees may also draw on future sick leave credits. When sick leave is exhausted employees would use leave without pay or request a leave of absence. For information on leave of absence see question about leaves.
  • Can an employee draw on future sick leave credits if they have no sick leave available?
    Yes. Collective agreements and The Public Service Regulations, 1999 allow for the employer to approve drawing up to a maximum of 30 days. Managers should consider requests on a case-by-case basis in consultation with their HR Business Partner Team. Employees should be aware that any advances limit available future sick leave, and if they leave employment, the overdrawn amounts will be collected back from their pay. When sick leave is exhausted employees would use leave without pay or request a leave of absence. For information on leave of absence see Question 10. Employment Insurance has waived the waiting period; exploring EI is also an option.
  • What if an employee is not required to self-isolate but refuses to come to work?
    Employees who are able to work from home must work from home. If an employee can't work from home, unless on approved sick leave, vacation, family leave, etc., employees should be directed to attend work. If they still refuse, the manager should contact their HR Business Partner Team for advice. 
  • What should a manager do if they suspect an employee is falsely stating they need to self-isolate?
    If this is the case, contact your HR Business Partner for guidance. Managers may request medical documentation if they believe it’s necessary in a particular situation.
  • If an employee needs to be away from work to care for a family member who is self-isolating or has COVID-19, will they be paid?
    If the contact with a family member also requires the employee to self-isolate in accordance with public health guidelines, sick leave can be approved. Employees who are able to work from home may work from home. In other circumstances, pressing necessity and family leave provisions may apply or access to vacation, banked time etc. can be approved. When other entitlements are exhausted, employees may use sick leave. When sick leave is exhausted employees would use leave without pay or may request a leave of absence. For information on leave of absence see question about leave.

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Workplace

  • If a significant portion of employees are sick or on self-isolation and it is impacting operations of the workplace and shutting down operations is not an option, how do I keep operations going?
    Managers should discuss with their ministry Emergency Planning Officer.
  • If an employee contracts the COVID-19 virus at work is it a WCB claim?
    If exposure is suspected to have occurred during authorized work duties, e.g. front line care giver, the employee should contact their health care provider's office for advice.
  • If I think an employee has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 who is not self-isolating, what should I do?
    When individuals are in contact with another individual who has contracted the virus, Public Health will advise contacts who need to know and subsequently self-isolate. Practice discretion and respect confidentiality. For more information, refer to Q&A for Employers: Role of Public Health in COVID-19 Case and Contact Follow-up
  • If an employee's vacation is cancelled, can vacation be carried over?
    The Permanent Head has the discretion to approve vacation carryover requests. 
  • If the ministry shuts down an office, will employees be paid?
    Yes. Permanent full-time employees will continue to be paid; the employer does not have short-term layoff provisions. Permanent part-time and term employees work as assigned by management with no guarantee of work. (Note: CUPE perm part-time do work guaranteed hours.)  Check with your HR Business Partner regarding notice provisions for part-time and term staff if required. Term positions can be ended early with the required notice.

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Protecting Yourself and Personal Protective Equiment

  • If an employee deemed essential is providing work in an area with exposure, or potential exposure to the virus, what personal protective equipment do I provide?
    Most workers will not require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for protection against the COVID-19 virus unless they are in situations similar to healthcare workers. Employees should adhere to the basic requirements of frequent handwashing, physical distancing and working from home where possible to reduce exposure. For more information on PPE use in Saskatchewan during the pandemic, refer to
    COVID-19 Appropriate Use of PPE for Employers.
  • Can I wear a non-medical grade mask in the workplace?
    It would be up to the employee to make the decision on whether or not they would like to wear their own non-medical grade mask in the workplace. Health officials have agreed that wearing a non-medical grade mask – even if you have no symptoms – is an additional measure you may take to protect others around you, particularly in situations where the recommended physical distancing may not be maintained (such as on public transit or in grocery stores).

    Wearing a facial covering/non-medical mask has not been proven to protect the person wearing it and is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand washing. It is another way of covering your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. People should be aware that masks can become contaminated on the outside or when touched by hands.

    The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is frequent handwashing and physical distancing to reduce exposure. For more information, visit: Considerations in the use of homemade masks to protect against COVID-19 and About non-medical masks and face coverings.

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Out-of-Scope

  • Out-of-Scope employees are required to use vacation/SDO entitlements and reduce their outstanding entitlement balance to 15 days. With recent events, are employees still required to meet these limits?
    Employees are expected to meet the entitlement limits. However, if an OOS employee's vacation/SDO had to be interrupted as a result of the pandemic (cancelled or required to work) OR was required to use sick leave due to illness, then the permanent head can authorize carryover in excess of the limit. 
  • Will Out-of-Scope employees be paid overtime if required to work additional hours as a result of the pandemic?
    Overtime for out-of-scope employees has not been approved. If a decision is made to authorize out-of-scope overtime, information will be shared directly with permanent heads.

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Employee Programs and Services

  •  Is there any mental health information I can use to help manage the emotional impact of COVID-19?
    These resources are from Morneau Shepell, our Employee and Family Assistance provider. Share this information with employees, co-workers and family. 
  • Can I still access the Employee and Family Assistance Program?
    Yes. It's important that we also make our mental health a priority right now. Contact EFAP if you need support.

Hiring

  •  Does COVID-19 affect the hiring of new employees or summer students?
    The Government of Saskatchewan has implemented a new approval process for hiring. All competitions are being reviewed. Contact the HR Service Centre if you have questions on hiring.



Contact information

Employees can contact their managers with questions.

Managers can contact their Human Resource Business Partner.


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