FAQ: Rights and Responsibilities for all Defence Team Members

Will there be consequences for people who do not follow physical distancing and other protocols in place?

We all share the responsibility for safe workplaces. The DM and the CDS have outlined the expectations for staff and for managers in the most recent CDS/DM Directive and the DM/CDS joint directive — DND/CAF COVID-19 public health measures and personal protection. Before anyone returns to a physical location, they will have had an in-depth discussion with their supervisor about what they can expect, and what will be expected of them. On site, managers are responsible for ensuring that protocols are followed. If an individual is not adhering to health and safety requirements, normal administrative and disciplinary processes should be followed.

Will staff who don't feel safe returning to a large workplace prior to the virus being eradicated be forced to return? If so, how will the department help to ease their concerns?

We recognize that there will be stress and anxiety related to returning to the workplace and that feelings towards returning will be different for each staff member depending on their personal circumstances. Remember, the return will be gradual and done in accordance with all public health measures.

As we move towards re-entering the workplace, there will be a need for all Chains of Command to discuss with their staff their preferences for remote work and/or return to the workplace, map staff availability against operational requirements, and determine the feasibility from an infrastructure and occupational health and safety perspective. We recommend that you to provide them with any and all information demonstrating the measures that have been and are being taken to protect their health and safety.

Engagement with the Local Occupational Health and Safety committee is also recommended. Should staff 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 or General Safety (D Safe G, VCDS) – OHSSecretariatSST@forces.gc.ca.

If the staff member has a specific vulnerability (i.e. elderly age category based on GC COVID-19 guidelines, compromised immune system, etc.), they must make a written, signed statement to that effect, and commit to providing a medical certificate to substantiate at a future date.

If you or your team members need to talk to someone for assistance coping with the stress and anxiety of the situation, there are a number of tools and resources available for you on the Defence Team COVID-19 website.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 related symptoms while at work?

If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing while working, you should:

  • inform your manager
  • go home if you are working on-site (avoiding the use of public transportation)
  • follow the advice of the local public health authorities
  • call the public health authority in the province or territory they are in to inform them. They will provide advice onoccupational health and safety.
  • contact your L1 or Command Health and Safety Advisor and your General Safety Officer at the local level OR General Safety (D Safe G, VCDS) – OHSSecretariatSST@forces.gc.ca

If you are/were in the workplace and it is confirmed by a health care provider that you are/were infected with COVID-19, under the Canada Labour Code, this would constitute a workplace hazard. As such, you have a duty to report this hazard to management. This information helps the employer determine a time period when you were in the workplace before self-isolation and if other members would have been exposed.

What are some things I can do to keep my workspace clean when I return to work?

We can all contribute to a healthy office by keeping our workspace clean. Consider cleaning and disinfecting your workstation, telephone, computer keyboards, etc. regularly with disinfectant products such as wipes and regularly emptying your personal trash bins.

Coronaviruses are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product when used according to the label directions. Health Canada has published a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective for use against COVID-19.

Is there a way to address the disparity of work functions and time on duty during the COVID-19 crisis? Some worked minimally, some worked from home, and others worked longer hours than normal due to the shortage of personnel at the workplace and increased duties to support the pandemic.

L1s created business continuity plans based on protecting the safety of our Defence Team members and maintaining critical operations. These arrangements are not permanent and as we move through Business Resumption, the situation will start to return to normal work flows. Those who worked longer hours than normal during these times will be compensated in accordance with their collective agreements and should talk to their supervisors about ensuring all overtime is properly tracked.

As a DND member, the military is responsible for its members and subsequently their family homes if we bring it back home. We do not know long term effects of COVID-19, is the military already liable? Are they ready to accept and handle the repercussions of their decisions?

The primary concern for DND/CAF is the well-being of the civilian and military members of the Defence Team, as well as their families. That’s why we are making concerted efforts across a number of fronts to reduce workplace risks for everyone supporting the important work of the Department and the CAF. If you have concerns specific to your unique personal situation, we recommend you speak with your supervisor and/or union rep for more information about your options, or you can consult online resources such as: https://www.canada.ca/en/government/publicservice/covid-19.html

I have or live with someone who has a pre-existing medical condition. Should I or can I go to work? What are my options to keep me and my family safe?

If you or someone you live with has an underlying medical condition that presents an increased risk of complications from COVID-19, you could be authorized to continue to work from home. We encourage you to discuss your specific circumstances with your supervisor or local CoC to find the best solution to keep you and your family safe. Your managers, supervisors and chains of Command should be engaged with the local Occupational Health and Safety committee and/or Health and Safety Representatives.

If you provide a critical service but cannot report to the workplace after discussion with your supervisor and a review of all the Public Health Measures that have been put in place, you may be granted leave (code?699) or you may exercise your right to refuse work under the Canada Labour Code while in the workplace. Contact your General Safety Officer, General Safety (D Safe G, VCDS) or OHSSecretariatSST@forces.gc.ca

My family member is displaying COVID-19 symptoms and is getting tested. Should I self-isolate and get tested as well?

If you have been, or have reason to believe you may have been, exposed to COVID-19, Defence Team members must comply with all local public health directed testing and isolation/quarantine procedures. If you have been working in the office, please head home and inform your supervisor of your possible exposure so that they can identify which coworkers may have been exposed as well.

The Defence Team — COVID-19 page has a number of resources, such as a COVID self-assessment tool and links to provincial/territorial guidelines.

My building pass expired while we were working from home. How do I ensure that I will have access to facilities once we return to the workplace?

Each CAF/DND location across Canada has its own section for issuing building passes (this is distinct from the DND ID, which is issued nationally from the National Capital Region (NCR)). In the NCR, the Pass Control section (accessible only on the National Defence network) provides building pass services to CAF members and DND employees. Presently, Pass Control is booking appointments by e-mail. At other CAF/DND locations, please speak to your manager or direct Chain of Command to get you in touch with your Identification and Pass Control Section.

What is the legal basis for the mandatory vaccine order? Has the Canada Labour code been amended have our employment contracts been amended? If not then this is an unenforceable order.

If you are a CAF member, the vaccination is not mandatory. However, the CDS has elevated the requirements for service making it mandatory to be vaccinated, as stated in a CDS Directive on COVID-19 vaccination. The labour code doesn’t apply to CAF members. For Public Servants, the labour code has been amended, as stated in the Treasury Board Secretariat policy. The purpose of the policy is to amend the Labour code, and it is therefore legally enforceable.

What are the ramifications to CAF members who refuse to me vaccinated by 15 November 2021?

CAF members, whether they telework or not, are expected to be compliant with the CDS Directive on CAF COVID-19 Vaccination by having attested to their fully vaccinated status, or attested to being unable to be vaccinated and having provided acceptable substantiation. CAF members unwilling to comply with the Directive may be subject to remedial or alternative administrative measures. In future, additional measures for non-compliance with the Directive, such as members being placed on leave without pay may be implemented. A CAF member’s unvaccinated status may have additional consequential career implications, including loss of opportunities contributing to promotion, which are outside of CAF control. Examples may include the inability to attend career courses, deployments, domestic and international exercises and OUTCAN postings owing to domestic and international travel restrictions and other nations’ entry requirements. In the future, additional measures for non-compliance with the Directive, such as members being placed on leave without pay may be implemented.

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