FAQs regarding COVID-19 for PIPSC members

General COVID-19 FAQs

What are the employer's responsibilities and my rights in the workplace?

It is the duty of the employer to take all the necessary precautions to make the workplace a safe environment. The employer must provide employees with the necessary information, training, and supervision to perform their job safely.

All employees in Canada have the right to

  • know about health and safety matters
  • participate in decisions that could affect their health and safety
  • refuse work that could affect their health and safety and that of others

For more information, visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety website.

If I am a worker exposed to COVID-19 at work, what should I do?

Our members maintaining critical services are making great efforts to protect Canadians. We are proud of them. Any critical worker who contracts COVID-19 in the workplace should contact their health and safety committee to file a workplace injury report. If you are unsure how to proceed in this case please contact us.

Have there been changes to my health plan?

Many health insurance plans are making temporary changes to their policies to allow for greater flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Note that these temporary changes are in effect until further notice.

PIPSC members should visit the website of their insurer for information on any changes to coverage.

You can find more information about your health plan on your group page.

Can I access my Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) for counselling support?

Most PIPSC members with federal, provincial or private employers have access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Your EFAP provides counselling, referral services and sometimes other specialized support. All services are confidential and free. 

It’s okay to not be okay. We are all facing this challenge together and the EFAP is one more tool to support you. We encourage you to use it – learn more about your specific EFAP now.

Core Public Administration

Information for Government of Canada employees: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Should I be working from home?

Government of Canada employees should abide by the instructions provided by their local health authorities. 

Only in the case that you are deemed critical should you be required to report to your worksite. Federal organizations must determine what to do in cases where telework is not possible, such as:

  • critical services requiring on-site presence
  • security limitations
  • other operational imperatives where there are no alternatives

If you are being instructed to return to the worksite but are not performing a critical service please contact us.

Which federal government services are “critical”?

The Treasury Board has responded to our request for a clear definition of “critical” services. 

“A critical service is one that, if disrupted, would result in a high or very high degree of injury to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians, or to the effective functioning of the Government of Canada.”

If you are deemed critical you may be asked to go to a worksite at this time. Telework should be arranged if possible in all cases.

Learn more here.

Can I refuse to work because my workplace is unsafe?

Like all workers, you have the right to refuse dangerous work. The nature of the pandemic is different across regions and workplaces, so the risk varies and some members provide critical services. Each case must be assessed individually, please contact us now for assistance with this evaluation.

I am a critical worker in the workplace, if I develop COVID-19 can I make a workers' compensation claim?

Depending on your province you may be entitled to compensation. If you are a critical worker and you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have received that diagnosis, you should immediately:

Your diagnosis can be related to your work duties, especially if you work in health care. Our employment relations officers can provide guidance on what to expect from the workers’ compensation claim process.

If I am injured while working at home, can I make a workers’ compensation claim?

Yes. Workers' compensation coverage includes anywhere you are doing your work, even your home. If you are working from home and you experience an injury due to a hazard in your environment, during the course of your workday, you should immediately advise your supervisor in writing and indicate that you have a workplace injury.

If the injury occurs outside of work hours and unrelated to your duties, it would not normally be covered. When you notify your employer, it is important to include the time of the accident, location in your home and what you were doing when the injury occurred.

Your employer has a responsibility to complete the appropriate documentation and you should complete the provincial workers' compensation injured worker form. In our experience, the federal government practice is to delegate claims management to the provincial boards. Employees of the federal government are subject to the Government Employee’s Compensation Act (GECA), unless the employer assigns the authority to administer a workers' compensation claim to the provincial board. Please contact our EROs if you have difficulties navigating this process.

After exploring alternative leave provisions, am I able to use Code 699 “Other Leave With Pay”?

According to the employer, Code 699 “Other Leave with Pay” will only be available under exceptional circumstances and for temporary usage, after the following conditions have been examined:

  • the employee would otherwise be available for work
  • options have been explored for
    • Flexible work hours
    • remote or alternate work
    • paid leave, available through collective agreements

Managers need to examine individual requests relating to Code 699 on a case-by-case basis. For more information about leave provisions available, please visit the employer’s Covid-19 information page.

If I have COVID-19 and I am too sick to work, should I use sick leave or Code 699 “Other Leave With Pay”?

If you contract COVID-19 you should use your sick leave to isolate and recover. According to the employer, Code 699 is not a replacement for sick leave.

What should I do if my manager denies my request for Code 699 “Other Leave With Pay”?

If your request for Code 699 is denied it may need to be reviewed. Please contact us and provide us with the details of your case.

If I am suffering from symptoms of “long COVID” what kind of leave can I access?

We encourage members to first speak with their managers about what accommodations or leave may be used for each individual case.

Those who are suffering from symptoms of long COVID may have difficulty meeting the current requirements for the Public Service Disability Program if they do not have proof of a positive COVID test. In many regions, both PCR and rapid tests may be hard to access.

We are working with the National Joint Committee to ensure that applications for disability benefits for symptoms of long COVID will be carefully assessed by the provider.

If you are suffering from long COVID and having issues accessing the Public Service Disability Program or being denied accommodations from your manager, please fill out our COVID-19 help form.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 but I have exhausted my sick leave bank for the year?

In the unfortunate event that you have exhausted your sick leave you may, at the discretion of the employer, be granted an advance on your sick leave from the following calendar year.

Have there been changes to my dental plan?

The Public Service Dental Care Plan (PSDCP) and the Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan have temporarily extended coverage for eligible dependents aging out of the plan. To lessen the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on dental care, the eligible dependents of plan members will, in most circumstances, remain covered for certain treatment one year after the day in which non-emergency dental coverage is restored. Please see this website for more information.

I had to buy some office supplies to be able to work from home, am I entitled to reimbursement for these expenses

Employees should always seek prior approval before purchasing equipment for work.

The Treasury Board has directed departments to only reimburse equipment expenses that have been pre-approved by the appropriate manager. You must also provide receipts for the expense.

Additionally, for the 2021 and 2022 tax years, employees working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be able to claim up to a maximum of $500 in home office expenses.

Other Federal Agencies FAQs

How should I proceed with requesting sick leave if myself or a family member has been impacted by COVID-19? Is there special bank time I should be using?

Currently, you should make this request directly to your supervisor as you would any other request for leave. 

Please contact us if you require support to manage sick-leave provisions or absence from the workplace.

How should I make a request for work from home accommodations?

All employees should abide by the instructions provided by their local health authorities. If your local health authority is advising that people should work from home wherever possible and your work can be conducted remotely, you should make a request with your supervisor. 

Should you require support please contact us.

Union Activities FAQs

Are union activities taking place?

The wellness of our membership is paramount. PIPSC activities and meetings will continue in accordance with local health authority guidelines. 

Meeting organizers will keep you informed about updated logistics of activities and meetings.

Is PIPSC requiring proof of vaccination for union meetings?

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is not required for union meetings.

However, if you are attending an in-person union event, you are required to be in accordance with all local health guidelines and the event venue’s guidelines. This may include vaccination.

Is my grievance or arbitration still moving forward in light of the pandemic?

Yes, your grievance or arbitration will still move forward. We will notify you if the process is delayed. In-person meetings at the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) have been postponed. Those affected will be notified.