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Last updated: May 12, 2020
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Contents

Returning to the Workplace 

  • How will I know when to return to my workplace?
    Employees will be returning to workplaces cautiously through a staged approach, guided by the phases of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan. In general, employees should continue working from home if they can do so effectively. Senior leaders will provide direction to ministries on when and how employees will return to their workplaces.
  • Are employees coming back to the workplace all at once?
    No. Employees will be returning to workplaces cautiously through a staged approach, guided by the phases of the . Throughout each phase, ministries will re-assess the impact on frontline services they provide and determine if employees need to return to the workplace. In general, employees should continue working from home if they can do so effectively.
  • When will non-frontline employees return to the workplace?
    There is no specific date at this time. The priority for employees returning to workplaces is for those providing citizen-facing services. Employees will be returning to workplaces cautiously through a staged approach, guided by the phases of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan. Throughout each phase, ministries will re-assess the impact on services they provide and determine if employees need to return to the workplace. Employees should continue working from home if they can do so effectively.
  • 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.

  • I don't have childcare. Can I continue to work from home?
    Employees should continue working from home if they can do so effectively. If your ministry has determined that employees need to return to the workplace, employees would be expected to make alternate childcare arrangements. Managers can refer to the Return to the Workplace Guidelines to help make decisions on returning employees to the workplace.

  • Can I continue to work from home permanently?
    At this time, the focus is on returning employees to their workplaces. There are a number of factors that need to be considered when determining if an employee can permanently work from home. Employees should discuss this with their manager. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice.

  • How will I know when I'm returning to the workplace?
    When your ministry determines when employees will be returning to the workplace, it will be the manager's responsibility to contact their employees and provide guidance on when and how to return to work.

  • What do I need to do to bring my employees back to the workplace?
    Managers can refer to the Return to the Workplace Guidelines and the Health, Safety and Wellness Checklist for Workplaces to help make decisions on returning employees to the workplace and for information on safety and other considerations.

  • What do I need to know about returning to the workplace?
    Managers will provide employees with information about returning to the workplace.  Employees can also refer to the Employee Checklist for Returning to the Workplace for more information.

  • Can I wear a mask when I return to 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. Refer to the question on non-medical grade mask in the workplace for more information.

  • How are you making sure employees are safe 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. Managers can refer to the Return to the Workplace Guidelines and the Health, Safety and Wellness Checklist for Workplaces to help make decisions on returning employees to the workplace and for information on safety and other considerations.

  • Do I have to return to the workplace if I have a pre-existing condition/compromised immune system?
    Employees should continue working from home if they can do so effectively. If your ministry has determined that employees need to return to the workplace and an employee cannot come to work 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.

  •  I don't want to return to the workplace until there is a vaccine, do I have to?
    Employees should be reassured that health and safety is a priority. The Government of Saskatchewan is following the guidance and direction of Public Health. If your ministry has determined that employees need to return to the workplace and you have concerns about returning, discuss this with your manager. Managers can contact their HR Business Partner for advice and refer to Return to the Workplace Guidelines .

  • 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 new rules or precautions are in place?
    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.

  • 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.

Redeployment

  • 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.

  • Should my employees be working from home?
    Yes. All Government of Saskatchewan ministries, agencies and Crown corporations have implemented a phased-in work from home policy effective Monday, March 23, applicable to employees deemed non-essential.  This means that any employees able to work from home must do so immediately.
  • Can in-scope employees work flexible hours?
    Yes. The unions and management have agreed to allow flexibility for in-scope employees' hours of work. 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. 

  • If I can't work from home, but am unable to come to work because of child or dependent care, what are my options?
    Employees may request pressing necessity and/or family leave up to the limits in those policies if they have credits available. Then vacation, banked time or SDOs may be requested. When other entitlements are exhausted, employees may use sick leave. When sick leave is exhausted employees would use leave without pay or request a leave of absence.
  • 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

  • Does a person need to provide a doctor's note to "clear" them to return to work following a period of self-isolation or illness? 
    No. To ensure we are not burdening the health care system, managers should not be requesting doctor's notes prior to clearing employees to return to work, even if they have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19. Employee may return to work after a period of self-isolation if they are asymptomatic and have not been re-exposed. Letter to employers regarding sick note.
  • 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.
  • When employees are required to self-isolate in accordance with public health guidelines, will they be paid?
    Yes. 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.
  • 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.
  • My child's school/daycare has closed or my private sitting arrangements have changed.  Can I take time off?
    Employees would be expected to make alternate arrangements if possible. Employees who are able to work from home must work from home. Employees may request pressing necessity and/or family leave up to the limits in those policies if they have credits available. Otherwise, vacation, banked time, SDOs may be requested. 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.
  • What if an employee comes to work exhibiting symptoms of illness?
    If an employee is exhibiting obvious signs of illness, they can be directed to go home, either to work from home, or on approved sick leave if sick leave credits are available. The employee should also be advised to contact their health provider's office.
  • 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 must
    self-isolate?
    To ensure we are not burdening the healthcare system, managers should not ask for medical documentation related to COVID-19 unless they believe it's necessary in a particular situation. If this is the case, contact your HR Business Partner for guidance. Managers may ask for proof of travel if necessary. 
  • 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 must 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.
  • How do I handle an employee who has a compromised immune system and is concerned for their health?
    Employees who are able to work from home must work from home. If the employee cannot come to work 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?
    Employees who are able to work from home must work from home. Households should use standard protocols to reduce the risk of transmitting illnesses.

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Workplace

  • If employee is afraid to come to work because of personal health circumstances, how should a manager respond?
    Employees who are able to work from home must work from home. If not possible, other scenarios will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and advice should be sought from the HR Business Partner.  
  • 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. 
  • Collective agreement provisions state that with medical substantiation, when an employee's vacation is interrupted for two days or more, or when exceptional circumstances incapacitate an employee prior to or during vacation leave, sick leave may be substituted for vacation leave.

Can this provision be used when an employee is not showing symptoms but has to self-isolate in accordance with public health guidelines?

Do they need medical documentation or will this be waived?

For in-scope employees: Required self-isolation will be considered an exceptional circumstance for which vacation leave may be changed to sick leave. In order not to burden the health-care system at this time, the requirement for medical documentation may be waived.

  • 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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