Paid Sick Leave during COVID 19 Pt 2

RE: Clarifying guidance for application of paid leave for isolation, quarantine and COVID-19 school closure

We have received a number of requests for clarification on paid leave. Following continued discussions with the BCPSEA, the following is guidance to CUPE K-12 staff and locals regarding the application of paid leave for isolation, quarantine and pandemic-related school closures (with clarifying language in bold):

• When a member is ill or injured (including COVID positive), sick time is still the appropriate coding for time lost. Locals should encourage members to file a Form 6 with WorkSafeBC if they contract COVID-19.
• When a member is following a requirement by public health (i.e.: health authority, public health office, Medical Health Officer), to isolate or quarantine, this time is to be coded as paid general leave, with no impact on sick banks. It is important that members get these directives in writing, as is typically provided by public health. The exception we are aware of is the Northern Health Authority (NHA) which only provides verbal direction, in which case members may be asked by their school district to complete a specific “self-declaration” for the NHA region. This includes time spent waiting for COVID test results and during worksite closures. Directives/guidance from a GP or 8-1-1 to isolate or quarantine will not be considered as an eligible directive due to the absence of evidence of a potential exposure resulting in the isolation/quarantine.
• All such paid general leave is fully funded by the Ministry, therefore this resolution will not impact district budgets and any suggestion of this resulting in cuts to hours should be resoundingly rejected.
• If a member chooses to travel to an area where quarantine will be required upon their return, this is an example of ‘avoidable’ quarantine. In this circumstance, the member cannot access paid general leave but may request access to additional vacation leave for time spent in quarantine upon their return

Example of a “self-declaration” form which may be required by your school district:

Leave Request – Employee Self-Declaration – Asymptomatic Employee Directed by a Public Health Official to Self-Isolate

In order to assist the school district in administering your leave request and to ensure that when you do return to the workplace that you are not placing yourself or others at risk, please verify and return the following self-declaration via return e-mail:

I declare that:

1. I am asymptomatic and do not show signs of COVID-19
2. I have been directed in writing by a Public Health Official to self-isolate due to potential exposure to COVID-19
a. Date written direction from Public Health Official received: ____________________
b. Duration of self-isolation directed by a Public Health Official: _______________ to _____________
3. This direction received was for me specifically, and not only for a child or other family member or person residing with me.
4. The direction from a Public Health Official to self-isolate was not related to or a result of me travelling internationally or having COVID-19 symptoms
5. If my condition changes, including from being asymptomatic (no signs of COVID-19) to that of symptomatic (showing signs of COVID-19), I will notify my supervisor immediately
6. In order to return to the workplace, I will seek advice and a clearance to return to work from a public health official or my physician
By returning this e-mail to my employer, and stating that you agree with this self-declaration: I confirm that I’m making a declaration that the details and declaration to statements 1 through 6 are true and accurate.

Additional supporting documentation may be required.

The personal information collected in this self-declaration is collected under the authority of section 26(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It is being collected, used and disclosed only for the purposes described in this form.

Should this general leave with pay be granted, it is understood that this general paid leave is being granted on a without prejudice basis as gratuitous to the collective agreement and is not a deduction of existing collective agreement leave banks. It is also understood that the provision of this general paid leave is subject to review and change in the future.

If in agreement with the self-declaration statements, please return the email to ______________________. When returning the e-mail, please ensure that you fill in the blanks in 2.a and 2.b and write and declare the following, “I’m self-declaring that statements 1 through 6 are true and accurate”.

Please identify any issues with applying this leave to your CUPE National Representative and we will make ourselves available to support them.

Paid Sick Leave during COVID-19 Pt. 1

With the continuation of the pandemic, CUPE has taken the position that our members should not be required to use earned sick banks or take unpaid leaves during periods of unavoidable isolation, quarantine or school closure. In order to fully support effective isolation or quarantine and thus maintain the safety of our members, school staff and students, districts should be providing wage continuity throughout these times. Employers consistently say that sick time is only to be used in cases of illness or injury, so for school districts to require the misuse of sick time (either paid or unpaid) now, is totally unacceptable. We know that members across the province face the very real issue of whether to adhere to public health orders in order to keep schools safe while balancing the decision of whether they can afford the time off required.

Here is a summary of how school districts should be treating periods of isolation or quarantine (including COVID-related school closure):

• When a member is ill or injured (including COVID positive), sick time is still the appropriate coding for time lost. Locals should encourage members to file a Form 6 with WorkSafeBC if they contract COVID-19
• When a member is following a requirement by public health or the employer to isolate or quarantine, this time is to be coded as paid general leave, with no impact on sick banks. This includes time spent waiting for COVID test results
• If a member chooses to travel to an area where quarantine will be required upon their return, this is an example of ‘avoidable’ quarantine. In this circumstance, the member cannot access paid general leave and may request access to additional vacation leave for time spent in quarantine upon their return
• Retroactive reinstatement of sick leave used prior to February 1, 2021 will not be possible broadly. Members who have been required to use sick leave or unpaid time during periods of unavoidable isolation or quarantine or COVID-related school closures should be encouraged to identify themselves to their Local, with the specific details of when the leave was improperly coded. We have received assurances that those specific cases can be resolved at a local level to make members whole
• All such paid general leave is fully funded by the Ministry, therefore this resolution will not impact district budgets and any suggestion of this resulting in cuts to hours should be resoundingly rejected. Although, we know this issue has the greatest impact on CUPE’s K-12 members, we have been informed that CUPE’s advocacy on this front will result in teachers and administrators receiving the same protections

If your members continue to experience any opposition from your employer(s), please work with your CUPE National Representative and we will continue to problem solve as necessary with BCPSEA.

CUPE Secures Quarantine Leave Pay

We are glad to advise that CUPE has secured agreement from the Ministry of Education that they will direct the BC Public School Employers’ Association and the School Districts to assure all employees who need to quarantine by a direction of a public health official are provided alternative duties or paid regular wages during the period of the quarantine. 

EDIT: (02/06/2021) The original version of this news story stated that CUPE & BCTF had negotiated this provision; we have since been informed that BCTF was not involved since this issue primarily affected support staff as teachers have been routinely accommodated in the event of quarantine and worked from home or via videolink.  This matter was not thus an item of huge concern for BCTF and the mistake arose from incorrect information circulated by a BCTF error on social media. 

Public school employees. 

Situations where an employee is directed by a public health official to self-isolate due to potential exposure to COVID-19 and is asymptomatic

  1. Explore work from home options in the employee’s current position for the duration of the required self-isolation;

  2. Where work from home in the employee’s current position is not possible, consider options for re-deployment to work which can be completed remotely;

  3. Where work from home and re-deployment are not possible, provide the employee with general paid leave, provided the direction of a public health official to self-isolate is directed at the employee, and not a family member or person residing with the employee.

Should a member of an employee’s household, but not the employee, be directed to self-isolate, per current practice, the employee may request vacation, other applicable leaves of the collective agreement or employment contract, or an unpaid leave of absence. Employers are encouraged to exercise flexibility in considering options for such requests.

February 1, 2021 and is not to be applied retroactively. For employees currently in a self-isolation period, it applies from the effective date (February 1, 2021).  CUPE and BCTF are still fighting this part. 

Where an on-call employee had accepted an assignment and is then directed by a public health official to self-isolate, districts should follow the steps outlined above. Where an employee is scheduled to work only a portion of the self-isolation days, the general paid leave would only extend to the already accepted scheduled assignment

No.  For unionized employees, this general paid leave is gratuitous to the collective agreements and is not a deduction of existing collective agreement leave banks. In the same way, this general paid leave is gratuitous to the employment contract for non-unionized staff.

Where an employee is directed by a public health official to self-isolate and is symptomatic, employees are not to be placed onto general paid leave, but rather, should be placed on sick leave. Sick leave is to be administered per the collective agreement or the employment contract.

DID YOU KNOW – Quarantine

What happens when I am asked to quarantine and not sick?   Here is the answer we have received from the District…as of September 9th, 2020

At this time, it is not covered under Work Safe. That could change, but for now:

  1. If someone is in quarantine or self-isolation and are acting in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the Quarantine Act (Canada), guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control or guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada (due to exposure at work, home or in the community).

A) they may access their paid sick leave for the 14 day quarantine period

B) if they have no sick leave, it would be coded as a COVID-19 unpaid leave and they will be eligible to apply for government benefits.

  1. This would not apply to someone who travels and returns from overseas. Their quarantine would be a COVID-19 unpaid leave (they could still apply for government benefits).


We are always here for you and are working hard to make this transition as smooth and safe as possible.  Don’t hesitate to be in contact with your rep or steward. 

 

Did you know… Few reminders from Stacey Robinson and Nancy Williams

Accommodations:

If you are seeking an accommodation, as per our Collective Agreement, please note the steps below:

• Member needs to contact , preferably by email, Lori Campion, Senior Manager, Human Resources at lcampion@sd38.bc.ca
• Lori will send you a letter, “Request for Accommodation”, read and if it applies to you, return with the necessary documentation to Lori Campion.
• Member will need to see their doctor and get a letter with their recommendations.
• Member returns necessary forms to Lori Campion. At this time it will be determined whether you meet the criteria for an accommodation.
• If the Accommodation request is declined the employee has the option to apply for a unpaid leave.
Please note: Accommodations are for high risk groups and are based on the employee’s medical issues – not those of family members, etc.

Unpaid Leave(s):

If a member decides to go on unpaid leave they need to be aware that they will be able to keep their position at their location for up to six (6) months. If the unpaid leave continues after six (6) months, the member will lose their position at their location and go on regular unassigned. Employee benefits will continue for one month once leave has started. Employees have the option of paying into the medical plan to continue their benefits by contacting Hardel Grewall in Payroll.

Subs:

When EA Subs are called out by ADS (Automatic Dispatch System), this system will try to send out the same sub to the same location – this will hopefully keep movement between locations to a minimum.

All other subs (ie: clerical, operations, etc.) the same protocol will be applied.

With reference to Safety Protocol training for subs – this will be provided to the Sub by the Administration at each individual location.

Calling In Sick & Atrieve:

If you are reporting a sick day, either by entering into Atrieve (before 4:00am) or calling the callboard (604-668-6221 after 4am) you will need to supply a reason (ie: doctor/dentist’s appointments or being sick) This will be especially important as it could effect your sick leave and/or sick leave pay. You will need to specify if you are displaying any COVID symptoms and will be required to call 811 and take the next steps. If you are tested for COVID and it comes back negative, you will still be required to stay at home until your original symptoms have cleared up. You will utilize your sick pay, whether you have tested positive for COVID or not, as you are displaying illness.

Sick pay cannot be utilized as a preventative measure.