Employee FAQ

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.

Previously Distributed FAQs:

I’m worried about exposure to coronavirus or COVID-19 on campus. What precautions are in place?

We are taking this situation seriously and are working hard to limit any spread of coronavirus in our community.

The Brandon University campus is largely closed, and everyone is strongly urged to work from home as much as possible. This helps protect those who must continue to work on campus.

We have distributed additional sanitizer stations around campus, and you are encouraged to use sanitizer liberally. We have also secured sufficient stock of sanitizer, gloves, masks and other protective gear to protect those who need it most.

We are significantly increasing our cleaning schedule to focus on the regular disinfection of contact surfaces.

There are several ways you can help to limit the spread of coronavirus. The Public Health Agency of Canada provides the most current guidance online at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html

Employees who have travelled internationally or who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are required to self-isolate.

Should employees who show any sign of illness (e.g. runny nose, sore throat) self-isolate?

If you are feeling unwell and/or showing signs of illness, you should not come to campus. You may use available accrued sick time in this situation. If feeling well enough and you able to work from home, you should work from home. Consistent with government recommendations, we are not requiring sick notes at this time.

Can sick leave be used if I am asked/required to self-isolate or am quarantined?

If you are self-isolating/quarantined and still able to work from home, you can continue to work and be paid regular time for those hours (normal pay provisions apply). If you are ill, or self-isolating/quarantined, and not able to do some or any work from home, you will draw on sick time to cover any remaining hours.

If my child’s daycare or school is closed, may I work from home?

If your job responsibilities are compatible with working from home, you should work from home. You should raise this with your manager and together you should work out a work-from-home plan. We acknowledge that, depending on the age of your child, you may not be able to effectively work while at home due to caregiving responsibilities. If this is the case, please talk with your manager about modified work hours (e.g., evenings).  You may also consider use of care-for or sick leave, accrued vacation or banked time.

If I have to care for a sick family member, may I work from home?

If your job responsibilities are compatible with working from home, you should work from home. You should raise this with your manager and together you should work out a work-from-home plan. We acknowledge that, depending on the well-being of your family member, you may not be able to effectively work while at home due to caregiving responsibilities. If this is the case, please talk with your manager about modified work hours (e.g., evenings). You may also consider use of care for or sick leave, accrued vacation or banked time.

If my immune system is compromised or if a family member in my home has a compromised immune system, may I work from home?

If your job responsibilities are compatible with working from home, you should work from home. You should raise this with your manager and together you should work out a work-from-home plan. You may also consider use of care for or sick leave, accrued vacation or banked time.

How are you keeping employees safe if they cannot work from home?

We recognize many functions do not lend themselves to being performed from home. In those situations, we encourage employees to adhere to preventative measures. The Public Health Agency of Canada provides the most current guidance online at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html

One of the ways we are working to limit any spread of coronavirus on campus is through sending other people home so as to protect those who must remain.

Physical distancing is the most important and most powerful way to limit the exponential spread of the virus. You should take physical distancing seriously and respect the ways that other people choose to practice physical distancing.

When these measures are practiced with diligence, they are an effective means for minimizing the spread of the disease.

In addition, employees should consult with their supervisor for specific protocols that may be in place for certain jobs.  Your health and safety is important to us.

Should supervisors let their employees work from home?

In situations where work can temporarily be performed from home or at an alternate location, we encourage supervisors to work with employees to identify those instances, and pursue remote work at this time. A key consideration for supervisors is whether or not remote work is compatible with the employee’s job responsibilities.  The University retains the ability to terminate the temporary remote work arrangement at its discretion.

Tools and resources are in place to support work from home situations.  More information is available online at https://www.brandonu.ca/helpdesk/staff/working-from-home/

If I am working from home, am I still able to come to campus?

If you are working from home but require temporary access to campus for such purposes as accessing files, signing documents, etc., you may do so as long as you are well and not self-isolating or quarantined. Please limit your visits to campus as much as possible and arrange with colleagues and co-workers to stagger your visits.

If you are self-isolating or quarantined, follow the current guidance provided by health authorities. In general, you are required to stay at home at all times.

If the university closes, will I still get paid?

The university has closed its doors to the public and students, however the university continues to remain open (albeit locked) for staff and faculty who require access. The university is committed to supporting all employees as much as possible through this challenging and unpredictable situation. Some employees may need to draw on sick time or other time banks if they are quarantined, have other responsibilities, or similar.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and commit to keeping you informed as new information becomes available.

I have an additional question

Please email the Critical Incident Team. They will endeavour to have the appropriate department respond to your question or post common answers here.