Faculty and Staff

Mobilizing research on campus

As the campus begins to open for research, all faculties have presented plans for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of a safe return to research laboratories. Most faculties are under or at a 33% return of researchers to their important work. That number will increase quickly in the fall.

Off-campus research activities are permitted if all public health directives and rules of the research location are followed. In-person research involving humans is now allowed. The Office of the Vice-President, Research, the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity, the Office of Risk Management have developed guidelines and procedures, which are available on the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity website.

As for scholarly gatherings, conferences or in-person meetings, researchers will be able to plan and host events as of September 1, so long as participants are local. No travel to on-campus events will be permitted until at least the end of October. Again, Ottawa Public Health directives must be followed. No outside groups will be permitted to host events on campus until further notice.


FAQ

Employees and Supervisors

Work Location

Is the campus closed and if not, is it safe for employees to come on campus?

Based on the most recent changes to COVID-19 related restrictions, the University of Ottawa wants to remind all its employees that only authorized people are permitted on the campus.

In accordance with provincial public health directives related to COVID-19, unless your function has been identified as essential, you should not be present on the campus. Only employees with authorization letters approved by Deans and Associate Vice-Presidents are permitted on campus. University of Ottawa Protection Services will ensure that only those duly authorized to come on campus may access our facilities.

If your function has been identified as essential and you must come to campus, please make sure to carry identification (either your uOttawa employee card or government used IDs) and the authorization letter issued to you by your Dean or Associate Vice-President. Physical distancing rules should apply at all times.

Classes are suspended, and students will move to online learning. Is the campus closed and if not, is it safe for employees to come on campus?

The university is still open and operating. However, employees are expected to work remotely unless their physical presence is required to maintain operational safety and/or the continuity of operations.

Supervisors must contact their employees to confirm whether their physical presence is required.

What measures can be implemented to ensure social distancing of employees who are physically at work?

Managers should create work plans that allow for social distancing. This can include:

  • introducing flexible or staggered hours allowing employees work at non-peak hours.
  • limiting staff meetings and get-togethers.
  • leveraging the use of technology for meetings, such as Microsoft Teams and teleconferencing.

Working remotely

I will be working remotely. What do I need to know?

Now is the time to make sure you have all the hardware, software and online apps you need to work remotely, in an efficient and secure way.

Here are a few ergonomic and safety tips on teleworking:

Teleworking Environment

  • The computer furniture, shelves, filing cabinets and bookcases are properly installed, and the filing cabinets are loaded properly so they won’t tip (e.g., anchored to the wall, where necessary
  • My workstation is adjusted to my needs. My desk, chair, monitor and keyboard are at the correct height and are properly adjusted (e.g., my head and wrists are in a neutral position).
  • The lighting is appropriate and suits my work (e.g., there is no reflection or glare on the monitor). Overhead task lighting is used.
  • The ventilation, humidity, temperature and noise levels can be adjusted, allowing me to work comfortably.
  • I have made sure that there is no risk of tripping (e.g., frayed or folded carpets or cluttered entranceways, hallways or passageways), and banisters are properly secured.

Safety of electrical equipment

  • Power bars are in good condition and do not present a tripping hazard.
  • Electrical outlets are not overloaded and do not present a fire hazard.
  • Electrical outlet covers are in good condition.
  • There is sufficient ventilation for electrical equipment.

All information about working outside of the office, including security guidelines, as well as step-by-step guides to setting up your workstation and connecting with colleagues, can be found on the Working remotely page.

For information on resetting your password, connecting to wireless networks, DocuShare and other IT employee services, please visit the Employee Services page.

I am a professor moving my course online. What resources are available to help me?

To help you effectively move your course from face-to-face to online, here are some important resources for you.

First, visit the Working remotely page to make sure you have the proper security measures in place, the right hardware and software installed to access your uOttawa accounts and connect with colleagues.

Visit the Professors Zone to get information about password resets, storage solutions for your research, scanning exams and more.

Finally, visit the Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS)’s Teaching Continuity page to help you plan and execute your online course. Discover all the tips, tools and resources you will need to make the transition online as smooth as possible.

IT and Staffing Needs

Do employees need a university-issued laptop to work remotely?

No. Employees can work on a non-university-issued computer. However, they will need to take steps to ensure their personal computer is secure. Managers should ensure that employees have the equipment they need to support working remotely.

The University is working to identify laptops that may be used by employees who are teleworking and do not have access to a laptop. Services and faculties in need of additional laptops may contact Information Technology for support. IT will work to prioritize employees in need of VPN licenses and equipment.

What support is available to temporarily fill positions if employees are not available?

Please speak with a Human Resources Business Partner or Human Resources Manager for more information.

Medical Documentation, Reporting and Resources

Are managers expected to report and track employee absences related to COVID-19?

Managers and employees are responsible for recording staff absences as usual.

Please notify the Health & Wellness office about employees who are in self-isolation or quarantine via email: hrhealth@uottawa.ca.

Will an employee who must self-isolate be paid?

Yes. Employees must notify their manager to set up their work arrangement as well as Health & Wellness to report an employee in self-isolation or quarantine via email: hrhealth@uottawa.ca.

If an employee has had direct or indirect contact with a person diagnosed with or under investigation for COVID-19, what should they do?

Employees should immediately contact:

Ontario residents may contact Ottawa Public Health
or Telehealth Ontario toll free:
1-866-797- 7000 or TTY: 1-866-797-0007

Quebec residents may call Coronavirus Special line: 1-877-644-4545

Please notify Health & Wellness of about employees who are in self-isolation or quarantine via email: hrhealth@uottawa.ca.

Benefits

Are employees who become infected with COVID-19 entitled to benefits under the workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIB)?

Employees may be entitled to benefits and services under WSIB but only if they are infected in the course of their employment. Contact Health & Wellness by email at hrhealth@uottawa.ca for guidance.

Work Refusal

Can an employee refuse to come to work because they feel at risk?

During COVID-19, the provisions of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act continue to apply, including the employee’s right to refuse unsafe work. All employees have a right to a work environment that protects their health and safety and the University has a legal obligation to take all reasonable precautions to protect employees from injury and illness. Employees who fear contracting the virus may refuse work if they believe their jobs or work assigned to them may create a danger to their health.

Although the University has implemented a number of measures to meet public health requirements and ensure employee health and safety, an employee who feels unsafe may initiate a work refusal in accordance with the established University work refusal procedure.

Should an employee refuse work, contact the Office of Risk Management. A member of the ORM team will contact a worker member of the Health and Safety Committee.

Compliance with safety measures

I understand the need for safety measures but what if I am unable to comply with them?

At this point, our campus is only open for limited, approved activities. All members of the uOttawa community who must come to campus must follow strict safety measures such as wearing a mask that securely covers the nose, mouth and chin while in common spaces inside buildings and respecting physical distancing whenever possible. Resources for individuals returning to campus have been developed, including an online COVID‑19 orientation module and other health and safety and sanitary measures that have been implemented on campus, such as new signage.

The safety measures put in place by the University are required for us to comply with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Employees who fail to comply with workplace policies or directives must provide a reasonable explanation, one acceptable to the University. It is important to understand that there is a shared obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to follow the safety measures in place.

Failure to provide a reasonable explanation could result in disciplinary action.

What if there is a medical reason why I can’t comply with a safety measure?

If you have a medical reason for not complying with a safety measure, you must provide medical documentation to support this.

Medical documentation will enable the University to develop a special accommodation plan that allows you to navigate the work environment while these measures are in place.

Accommodation plans will be developed and implemented with the support and involvement of Health and Wellness.

Why must I provide medical documentation to justify my inability to follow a safety measure?

An employee who requires a workplace accommodation must provide supporting documentation.

The University, like all employers, has an obligation to not only respond to an employee’s request for accommodation but also to ensure the safety of other employees.

Support for Employees

Is support available for employees who are feeling overwhelmed or scared?

People react differently in different circumstances. The uncertainty and risks associated with COVID-19 may be disturbing for some individuals.

If employees report feeling emotionally overwhelmed, they may access confidential support through the University’s Employee and Family Assistance Program at: 1-800-387-4765 TTY: 1-877-338-0275 or at workhealthlife.com. EFAP short-term counselling is now available for all employees and their families.

Vacations and Leaves

I had some summer holidays already booked and due to the pandemic, I had to cancel my plans. Can I also cancel my pre-approved vacations?

The current pandemic has far-reaching impacts, especially for those who had planned to travel abroad. Generally speaking, pre-approved vacation should not be cancelled. That said, managers are asked to exercise judgement in reviewing requests for cancellation. Each request for cancellation should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and managers must carefully asses the rationale should an exceptional reason is advanced by an employee.

With all those travel and movement restrictions, why should I keep my summer holidays. Can I reschedule my vacations when the pandemic will be over?

While the University appreciates that COVID-19 related measures may limit holiday options, employees should nevertheless consider taking some time off. The quick transition to distance learning and teleworking has been a challenging time for many employees . When summer will come, many of employees will deserve a break to recharge their batteries.

Delaying summer holidays may also become an issue post-pandemic as the University will need to resume its full operations. Resources will be required on campus and operational needs may limit the possibility of allowing several employees to go on leave at the same time.

Managers should establish a plan to ensure the continuity of operations for the balance of the year and avoid conflicting leave requests from employees. Employees should provide their manager with a vacation plan until the end of 2020. As usual, vacation leave requests must continue to be approved based on staffing and operational needs and be managed in accordance with existing policies and applicable collective agreement provisions.

What are the options if I still want to delay my pre-approved vacations?

Generally speaking, pre-approved vacation should not be cancelled. Each request for cancellation should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and managers must carefully asses the rationale should an exceptional reason is advanced by an employee.

Also, keep in mind that employees are not permitted to carry over vacation hours in excess of that which is currently permitted under Policy 9a or the applicable collective agreement. Except for those on probation, employees can only carry over ten (10) days in excess of annual leave entitlement for the following year.

Managers should establish a plan to ensure the continuity of operation for the balance of the year and avoid conflicting leave requests from employees. Employees should provide their manager with a vacation plan until the end of 2020. As usual, vacation leave requests must continue to be approved based on staffing and operational needs.

I had to request special accommodation due to family obligations resulting of pandemic measures. Can I continue to benefit from such accommodation?

The declaration of a state of emergency for Ontario, on March 17th, resulted in the closure of schools, day cares and other resources in our communities. Some of our employees affected by these closures were able to enter into a flexible work arrangement with their managers, while others declared an inability to work due to their individual family status obligations.

The University extended receipt of regular pay to all employees with family status obligations until April 30th.

As of May 1st, employees who are unable to work due to family status obligations must access their accrued leave banks (annual leave, family obligation leave, banked time, etc.) in order to continue to receive payment from the University.

The University is mindful that some employees may have already accessed their leave banks due to the school strikes that preceded this crisis. Managers may discuss options with employees and assess specific requests on a case by case basis.

What can I do if I have exhausted all my leave bank and still have to deal with family obligations?

Requests related to family status obligations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If accessing personal leave banks is not an option, affected employees may also apply to Service Canada for benefits available under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, namely the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

For more information about available support for employees, consult the following key resources:

Business Continuity Planning

What is Business Continuity Planning?

The situation is fluid and the university will update its workplace policies to address new needs.

Employee Data – please remind employees of the importance of updating their personal and emergency contact information. Employees may forward updates to Human Resources at hrinfo@uottawa.ca.

Emergency Contact List – it is important that you are able to contact your employees in case of an emergency.

  • It is important that you have a protocol for contacting your team during off hours. You may use call tree, group text, group email, conferencing on Teams.
  • Develop a list that includes employee contact information and home address.

Travel in Canada and abroad

The University remains committed to the benefits of internationalization and enhancing its reputation as a world-class teaching and research institution. We appreciate the considerable international expertise of our community and recognize that certain essential travel may be required even in a pandemic.  We continue to work closely with public health authorities to protect both our community and the community at large.

Effective immediately, the University is lifting the international travel restrictions for faculty and staff provided that travellers follow local health guidelines during their trip and when returning to Canada. Travellers must research and accept the inherent risks involved in their trip, plan appropriate time and resources for quarantine and potential trip delays or cancellations.

Faculty and staff are required to register official trips with the University so that we can contact you in an emergency and introduce you to the full range of services available to you through International SOS. Domestic travel and off-campus activities are permitted, if they are carried out in accordance with the advice of the relevant public health agencies and the directives in effect at the location and site-host where the activities occur. See the appropriate question and answer at the bottom of this page for more details.

Does the University allow faculty and staff to travel internationally?

Effective immediately, the University is lifting the international travel restrictions for faculty and staff provided that travellers follow local health guidelines during their trip and when returning to Canada. Travellers must research and accept the inherent risks involved in their trip, plan appropriate time and resources for quarantine and potential trip delays or cancellations.

Faculty and staff are required to register official trips with the University so that we can contact you in an emergency and introduce you to the full range of services available to you through International SOS.  Personal trips may also be registered if travellers would like to access these services. For further information about travel abroad for faculty and staff contact voyages.int@uOttawa.ca.

Are students allowed to travel abroad?

International travel continues to be restricted for the student body, and mobility programs remain on hold until further notice. However, some people may be authorized to travel on an exceptional basis for research or field work considered essential. We are currently developing a formal travel review process, in consultation with key mobility stakeholders.

Students whose essential travel is urgent should:

  • contact the Student Safety Abroad Advisor at uointl@uOttawa.ca;
  • register their travel with uOttawa;
  • submit their quarantine plan to the University upon their return to Canada;
  • get tested for COVID-19 upon their return, as recommended by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
Are travel to Canada permitted?

Travel to Canada as well as trips to participate in off-campus educational activities are permitted if they comply with the directives of the competent health authorities and the rules in force at the site where the activities take place. The Office of Risk Management has also prepared a useful guide to facilitate the planning and preparation of activities in the field.


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