Dear Fellow UWOSA member,
Information about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly changing and the last two days have been no exception. Our Employer, Western University, is responding based on information it receives from the Middlesex London Health Unit. It is important for you, as an employee of this University, to follow the instructions received from Jane O’Brien regarding absences away from work, and information provided on Western’s COVID-19 website: https://www.uwo.ca/coronavirus/.
Members of the UWOSA Executive continue to meet with other employee groups on campus and Western Human Resources to receive updates on how Western University is responding to the pandemic.
As indicated in President Alan Shepard’s March 16, 2020 announcement, and to ensure the health and safety of our campus community and to prevent the risk and spread of COVID-19, effective Thursday, March 19 Western will move to a required services model until further notice.
It is very important to understand that the University remains open and adjustments to how employees work is being adjusted. The University will continue to operate—with some employees required to be physically present on campus, other employees to report to work on a rotation schedule and others required to work off-campus in a virtual mode.
All staff are required to work, either on campus or remotely at home. Employees will continue to be paid for any scheduled days/shifts.
How does this affect me as a UWOSA member?
1. Assignment of Work. Leaders across faculties and service units will identify a plan for each department to determine the number of staff required to work on-campus or work remotely. Supervisors in your area will determine workloads and provide assignments to each of us, based on each department’s operational needs, and the overall needs of the University. Assignments will evolve and change as the entire University adjusts to this new style of working during this difficult time.
2. The University remains open. Whether you are working on campus or remotely, we must continue to work collaboratively to support our students, our researchers, and each other.
3. Working on Campus. Safety is still the utmost importance as reiterated by Jane O’Brien, Vice President, Western Human Resources.
If you have specific concerns regarding your workspace, please bring this forward to your immediate supervisor and OH&S (https://www.uwo.ca/hr/safety/contacts/index.html). Modifications have been made to ensure staff safety, which includes limiting contact with others and performing proper hygiene practices as outlined by the Public Health Unit.
4. Absence Reporting System (ARS). You all should have received an email regarding an Absence Reporting System. If you did not receive this email, please contact email@example.com right away.
ARS has been implemented:
- If you are unable to work (either remotely if advised by your supervisor to do so, or on-campus) you must report your absence via the reporting system.
- There are many options to choose for the absence.
- You will be paid if you are unable to attend work. Western University has been crystal clear that they are providing compensation to all members during these extenuating circumstances if you are unable to attend work. At this time, the option you choose does not impact your compensation.
- If you have an extraordinary circumstance that requires an accommodation for you to work remotely, please contact Rehabilitation Services https://www.uwo.ca/hr/safety/ergo_rehab/ . (For example, you are immunocompromised or have an upper-respiratory condition.)
- If you are required to care for children as their primary caregiver and have no access to daycare, leaving you unable to attend work on-campus, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for supports. You are not expected to bring your children to work with you.
- All travelers returning to Canada from abroad must self-isolate at home for 14 days whether they have symptoms or not. This is a directive from the Federal government. If this is your circumstance, report this absence under the reporting system and stay home. Self-isolation instructions can be found on Government of Canada’s website: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.
- If you are feeling unwell or are sick, the directive from the federal government is to stay home.
- If you are feeling unwell or are sick, please report your absence from the list on the ARS. If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
5. Updates on Information. UWOSA reminds members to please frequently visit Western’s homepage at www.uwo.ca and click on the link “ongoing updates from the university regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) https://www.uwo.ca/coronavirus/. This site, in combination with the University sending frequent updates to your Western email are the two main communication vehicles at this time for accurate and factual information on Western’s response.
6. Self-Care. This rapidly evolving situation may be causing stress for members of our campus community. Supports are available for UWOSA members. Western’s Employee and Family Assistance Program can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week https://www.uwo.ca/hr/benefits/eap/index.html.
Self Awareness. It is important to understand these are very stressful times and it is critical that we are compassionate and supportive to all members of our community. It is important for all of us to continue to support one another, and help one another during this time of uncertainty.
If you have any additional questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so we can refer you to the correct contact or provide you support.
~ Meg Perinpanayagam (President), Nikki Grozelle (Chief Steward), James Taron (Secretary), Karen McDonald (Treasurer), Jen Heidenheim (Membership Services Officer), and Rob Harbottle (Health and Safety Officer)