FAQ: Manager’s and Supervisor’s Responsibilities

Note: This page has been archived and is no longer in use. For the most up-to-date COVID-19 FAQs, please consult the new Defence Team COVID-19 FAQs web page.

As a manager/supervisor, what are my responsibilities in the context of COVID-19?

Managers/supervisors are responsible at all times, both by policy and by law, to provide their staff with a healthy and safe work environment. In the context of COVID-19, managers/supervisors must remain informed of orders, directions and guidance issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and from their own organizations. They also have the duty to inform their staff of these orders, directions and guidance.

Managers can obtain advice from their Departmental Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator regarding health and safety processes and procedures but, at a minimum, must familiarize themselves with their responsibilities in dealing with a staff members' right to refuse dangerous work, and/or health and safety complaint. These processes are set out in the Canada Labour Code and are explained on the Employment and Social Development Canada webpage on occupational health and safety.

It is critical managers are equipped with the tools required for them to support their employees both from a well-being perspective as well as from a performance management perspective. It is equally important managers ensure consistent contact and communication with employees to keep them appraised on the ongoing evolution and changing landscape as business resumption occurs.

Managers can also consult the Manager's Handbook Canada Labour Code Part II, developed to assist them in interpreting and implementing the requirements of Part II of the Canada Labour Code.

Some of my employees are uncomfortable returning to the workplace. Can they stay at home?

We recognize that there will be stress and anxiety related to returning to the workplace. The return will be gradual and done respecting appropriate Public Health Measures (PHMs). As Defence Team members return to the physical workplace, there will be a need for all managers to discuss with their employees their preferences for remote work and/or return to the workplace, map employee availability against operational requirements, and determine the feasibility from an infrastructure and occupational health and safety perspective.

While the pandemic has shown that much can be done through remote work, many tasks cannot be accomplished this way. Factors to consider when deliberating about the feasibility of remote work should include local PHMs, operational requirements of in-person presence, infrastructure changes, dependent care responsibilities, vaccination status, and mental health. You are encouraged to have a thorough discussion with your team concerning returning to the workplace to determine the best work arrangements that balance the needs of personnel with operational requirements.

Someone I manage doesn’t want to come to work but they perform a critical service. What can I do?

For employees who are fearful to physically report to work but provide a critical service, it is our advice that they be provided with any and all information to demonstrate that we have taken measures to protect their health and safety. Engagement with the Local Occupational Health and Safety committee is recommended. Should they still not want to report, they will need to exercise their right to refuse work under the Canada Labour Code. Contact your General Safety Officer, General Safety (D Safe G, VCDS) or P-OTG.GenSafetyProgEnq@intern.mil.ca. If the employee has a specific vulnerability (i.e. elderly age category based on GC COVID-19 guidelines, compromised immune system, etc.), they could make a written, signed statement to that affect, and commit to providing a medical certificate to substantiate at a future date.

I have a vulnerable employee who wants to come back to the workplace. Do I need to ask for a medical certificate?

This is not necessary. Ensure the employee is making an informed decision by sharing the steps you’ve taken to protect their health (PHM, PPE). Encourage open conversation to ensure the employee does not feel obligated to risk their health or that of a family member. Each employee can make their own personal decision. It is our job to ensure they have the information needed to make an informed one.

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