These are answers to some of the most common general work and employment questions that we’ve been hearing in our sector about COVID-19. If you have specific health-related questions related to COVID-19, you should turn to a health professional or visit the resource pages listed at the bottom.
I’ve just come back from outside the country. Do I have to stay home from work for 14 days?
Anyone who travels abroad must stay home from work or school for 14 days upon their return to B.C. At this time, government is not forcing people to follow this rule, however, you are expected to adhere as part of your civic duty. Failing to stay home may put others at risk. Please note that this does not apply to individuals whose travel outside the country is essential, such as cross-border trucking companies and airline crews.
As a construction worker, I don’t get sick days. Does that mean I won’t get paid if I have to stay home?
The Canadian government has eliminated the usual one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance Sick Leave Benefits so that workers who are quarantined can be paid for the entire 14 days. Workers quarantined for COVID-19 can receive 55 per cent of their earnings to a maximum of $573 a week. Details are available here. Service Canada has also set up a toll-free number for those seeking EI for self-isolation: 1-833-381-2725.
I’m on the dispatch list at my union hall. What’s the expectation for me to accept employment?
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, fatigue and a dry cough. If you experience these symptoms and/or you have recently travelled outside the country or have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, you should delay accepting a dispatch and contact your health care provider. You can also call 811 to speak with a registered nurse.
I work away from home and receive a Living Out Allowance (LOA) as per my collective agreement. What happens if I have to self-isolate?
You will continue to receive your LOA as part of the collective agreement. However, your employer is not responsible for your wages if you are not working. Instead, you are eligible for EI Sick Benefits under the conditions described above.
Good hygiene is key to controlling the spread of COVID-19. I have concerns about the health conditions at my construction site, including the surfaces in common lunchrooms and the availability of hand-washing products in portable toilets.
Frequent hand-washing is known to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as is frequently disinfecting surfaces. If you do not have access to soap and running water or hand sanitizer in portable toilets at your site, or you notice certain surfaces not being cleaned, speak to your workplace health and safety representative.
It’s common at my worksite for workers to share and borrow tools from each other. Should we stop doing this?
From the BC Centre for Disease Control: COVID-19 is transmitted via larger liquid droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. The virus can enter through these droplets through the eyes, nose or throat if you are in close contact. The virus is not known to be airborne and it is not something that comes in through the skin. However, it can be spread by touch if a person has used their hands to cover their mouth or nose when they cough. That’s why you should cough or sneeze into your arm and wash your hands regularly.
There are more than 50 people at my worksite. Does this qualify as a gathering that should be closed down?
Not at this time. The B.C. Government has placed a ban on all events larger than 50 people. This does not include work sites or large places of employment.
I’m an apprentice in school. Some post-secondary institutions have moved to online classes only. Is my school next?
At this time, decisions are being made on a school by school basis. Our training schools are constantly reassessing their classroom status, in consultation with the joint training boards that are responsible for each of our schools. Contact your school for additional information.
If my school closes, how will my Employment Insurance be affected?
The EI process will be reviewed for any apprentices who are caught mid-training. We will provide more information as it becomes available.
It is important to ensure you are getting the most accurate and reliable information about COVID-19. These are trustworthy sources: