We know that this situation brings with it a great deal of uncertainty and the members of our community have many questions. We have created this FAQ to guide our Faculty and Staff through our interim measures which have been established to maintain the University operations effectively.
What is the difference between a leave without pay and a temporary layoff?
A leave without pay (LWOP) is typically employee driven. We recognize that employees may be experiencing new challenges, particularly as they relate to childcare, and a LWOP may be desired so that you can care for your children, avail yourself of federal support benefits, and do so knowing that your position is secure. You may also wish to reduce your hours to part-time and draw on available vacation or banked time balances or request a LWOP for the balance of your equivalent full-time position. In a LWOP scenario, managers will inform HR of the start and anticipated end dates of the leave. Employees may request a record of employment from Human Resources (Payroll) though one is not required to apply for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
A temporary layoff is typically employer determined and would be the case where a shortage of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic is identified. A notice period will be provided and employees will be returned to their current position as soon as possible. In a layoff scenario, managers will inform HR of the start and anticipated return date of the layoff. Employees may request a record of employment from Human Resources (Payroll) and can consider applying for Employment Insurance or the CERB.
Prior to the commencement of a LWOP or a layoff, employees may draw on their banked overtime or vacation balance to maintain income security and prolong their period of employment before the commencement of the LWOP or layoff.
Can I request a leave without pay or receive a temporary layoff without having to use up all my vacation first?
Yes, you can. You are not required to deplete your vacation or banked overtime balances when you request a leave without pay or face a temporary layoff.
How do I access federal support?
The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available to those who stop working for reasons related to COVID-19, including work shortages and the need to care for children or other dependents. More information about CERB is online at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html
Employment Insurance (EI) is also available. You should consider which support program is best for you. If you apply for EI, a Record of Employment (ROE) will be required and will be supplied by Human Resources upon request. Your ROE will be issued to reflect a shortage of work.
If I work intermittently (e.g. a few days per month), will it impact my access to federal support?
The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit can be provided to employees who remain attached to the University, provided you have stopped working as a result of COVID-19, and expect to be without employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period. Intermittent work may have unintended negative impacts on your access to federal benefits (e.g., CERB/EI).
If I take a leave, am I guaranteed to come back to my job?
Leaves, whether voluntary or as a result of work shortage, will be reviewed regularly and employees will be returned to their current position as soon as possible.
Will a leave or layoff affect my pension calculation if I am set to retire in the next few years?
Pension calculations are based on an employee’s best five years out of the last 12 years (so not necessarily an employee’s last five years). Therefore, a leave should have little impact on your pension calculation.
Will a leave or layoff affect my benefits?
Extended health benefits, including dental coverage and Health Spending Account, remain available to employees who are laid off or who opt for a voluntary leave; however, the employee will be responsible for the employer and employee premiums.
Life and long-term disability coverage are also available and the employee will be responsible for the employer and employee premiums. The maximum extension on life insurance is six (6) months and one (1) month for LTD. If the leave should extend beyond these maximums, the benefits will stop. If you should choose not to extend this coverage, then coverage will terminate on your last day worked.
Accidental death & disability coverage is not available while on a leave or layoff and coverage will terminate on your last day worked.
I have a dependent enrolled in a course at Brandon University. Will a leave or layoff affect their tuition waiver?
If you qualified for a tuition waiver for a dependent prior to COVID-19, a leave or layoff will not affect your access to the tuition waiver.
I am considering early retirement. What are my options?
Early retirement programs are typically available to people who are eligible for a pension, which at BU is minimum age 55. For an un-reduced pension, you must be 60 and meet the rule of 85 (age plus years of service). Please contact your union representative and Human Resources to discuss your options.