FAQ: Employee and Staff Responsibilities

As an personnel member, what are my responsibilities in the context of COVID-19?

Employees have the responsibility to inform themselves by consulting information provided by health authorities and by their employer, such as 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19): Outbreak update. They are responsible for following their management's directions regarding reporting to work and workplace health procedures in the context of the COVID-19.

Section 126 of the Canada Labour Code outlines reasonable expectations for all employees regardless of their position in the organization. Employees' duties include, among others:

  • Using safety equipment provided to them;
  • Complying with all instructions from the employer concerning the health and safety of employees; and
  • Cooperating with any person carrying out a duty set out in the Code.

While at work, employees must also report to the employer any object, situation or circumstance in a workplace that is likely to be hazardous to the health or safety of employees or other persons granted access to the workplace by the employer.

To avoid spreading the virus to colleagues and clients, employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, and difficulty breathing) have a duty to stay at home as long as they present symptoms or as long as directed by their doctors.

What are my rights as an employee?

Employees have specific rights related to working conditions and leave provisions that are outlined in collective agreements and Treasury Board policies. If employees require assistance in understanding these provisions, they should talk to their manager/supervisor or their union representative.

In addition, employees have three specific rights stemming from the Canada Labour Code, Part II, in relation to their health and safety in the workplace:

  • the right to know;
  • the right to participate; and
  • the right to refuse dangerous work.

Employment and Social Development Canada's Labour Program created a brochure, Pamphlet 1 – Summary Health and Safety, which contains general information on the Code, Part II. The three rights mentioned above are explained in this brochure.

What can I do if my work involves contact with clients?

Given the evolving status of this disease outbreak, please refer to the following links for up-to-date information:

What do I do if I think a client is ill?

You should bring this to the attention of your supervisor/manager, who will decide on the best way to provide the service to the client, such as via Internet, telephone, mail or increased social distancing.

Health authorities will continue to provide advice on appropriate measures to take to protect the health of all personnel and to stop the spread of the virus.

I am experiencing anxiety about COVID-19. What can I do?

Under circumstances such as these, it is natural to experience anxiety. Staff may wish to speak to their manager/supervisor, who will be able to advise them on what services are available to help them, including programs such as the Employee Assistance Program. Alternative work arrangements where possible can also help alleviate anxiety.

Defence Team members can also access a variety of resources and information on the Defence Team COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellness page, to help maintain and support mental health and overall personal well-being.

Should I avoid public transportation if I am not ill?

There is currently no public health advice recommending that individuals should avoid using public transportation. A staff member who has such concerns remains responsible for making arrangements for getting to and from work.

Will employees be able to clean their workspace with cleaning products although they are scented?

Cleaning products should be un-scented to ‎take into account any environmental sensitivities. However, with the limited supply chain, it may not be possible to procure un-scented cleaning products. A solution of 5 ml of bleach to 260 ml of water and a cloth will suffice. Make sure public health measures such as frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds is observed.

Is there a provision or information about whether I will have to pay back any overpayments as a public servant during the COVID 19 epidemic? Do I have to pay now or will I be allowed to pay afterwards?

As of March 23, 2020, the Pay Centre temporarily suspended the overpayment recovery plans for all new overpayments under section 3.15.4 in the Directive on the Terms and Conditions of Employment, “Recovery over an extended period as a result of the implementation of Phoenix.” (LINK:https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=15772)  For additional information, please refer to DND’s article on “Overpayments during COVID” (LINK:http://hrciv-rhciv.mil.ca/en/dynamic-article.page?doc=overpayments-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/k98fr4cv).

Employees in an overpayment situation, including those with existing recovery plans and those who do not yet have a recovery plan, may discuss recovery arrangements available to them by contacting the PSPC online at Client Contact Centre (LINK: https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/remuneration-compensation/services-paye-pay-services/paye-centre-pay/cn-cu-eng.html) or by phone at 1-855-686-4729, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays) from 7 am to 7 pm (eastern time) .   Each recovery situation is different and the Pay Centre deals directly with the employee to determine available options based on their particular situation. 

Employees are also welcome to contact DND’s HR Connect RH online or by calling the toll-free number 1-833-RHR-MDND (1-833-747-6363), Monday to Friday from 0800 to 1600 EST. Online requests will be answered within 48 hours and can be sent at any time of the day through the DWAN.

Where can I find reliable, in-depth information about the COVID-19 virus, COVID-19 testing, and vaccines?

To keep informed on the most up-to-date information about the COVID-19 pandemic, please see the Government of Canada (GoC) COVID-19 web site. The GoC COVID-19 web page hosts all the latest information about announcements, trends, vaccinations, testing, and guidance. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a great deal of misinformation has circulated online and on social media. It is important that you get your information from trusted and verified public health services and authoritative public institutions.

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