Human Resources

Human Resources

Human Resources

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Managing staff concerns about returning to campus & work refusal

As we begin a phased return of activities to campus, the university recognizes that staff employees may feel nervous about returning to campus workspaces and facilities.  There may also be situations where staff are unable to work on campus as a result of personal or health reasons.

Managers should ensure that their staff are fully aware of the precautions and guidelines that have been implemented as a result of the pandemic.  Being fully aware may ease some of the concerns staff have about a phased return of activities to campus.  It is also important to ensure that everyone is complying with University, Faculty and Departmental return to campus guidelines as well as the recommendations of public health officials. 

If an employee is expressing their nervousness to return to the workplace or refusing to return to the workplace, it is important to understand the basis for which an employee is concerned or refusing to attend the workplace.  Please consider options for allowing staff to work remotely while the concern is being addressed. 

  • Work Refusal – Health and Safety:  If the concern is related to feeling unsafe, first ensure the employee is aware of the resources and information available through the university and the measures that have been put in place by the department to reduce the risk of transmission. If the matter is not remedied at this stage, or if the employee “refuses” to attend due to health and safety concerns, contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety for assistance in accordance with the University’s obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • Staff Specific concerns: If the concern or work refusal is related to an employee’s personal situation, it is important to afford them with flexibility wherever possible.
  • Caregiver Responsibilities: If the inability to return to the workplace is related to caregiver responsibilities, please refer to Flexible Working arrangements for staff with caregiving responsibilities Manager’s Guide.
  • Health related concerns: If the reason is related to an employee’s medical condition, please contact Return to Work and Accommodation Services  for advice on whether an accommodation is necessary and options for accommodation, if available.
  • Self-Isolation or Quarantine: If an employee is unable to attend the workplace due to self-isolation or quarantine, they may qualify for sick leave under the University’s Sick Leave Plan – consult with Return to Work.
  • Other: If the concern or work refusal is for other reasons, or if you require further information, please consult with your Human Resources Advisor.

Managers should remind staff of the availability of our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) through Homewood Health.  The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a confidential service providing professional counselling, coaching and support available to employees and their family. The program is available 24 hours a day. The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) can be contacted by telephone (1-800-663-1142) or electronically through Homewood Health's website.

Managers can also obtain assistance through the Key Person Advice Line which connects managers with clinicians for consultation on situations such as preparing for, or debriefing after an emotional conversation with an employee, strategizing on how to recommend the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to an employee, and determining appropriate supports from the available Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) offerings, customized to specific employee needs.  The Key person Advice Line can be accessed through the general Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) line at 1.800.663.1142 or TTY (Hearing Assistance) 1.888.384.1152.

Homewood Health has prepared various Pandemic Toolkits and other resources for employees and managers which may be useful at this time.