Message to CUPE members regarding coronavirus

To CUPE members across Alberta,

The spread of the coronavirus around the world has led to numerous workplace issues that CUPE is dealing with. Each sector and workplace has their own issues, and CUPE staff and local executives are working around the clock to address them as best we can.

National Representatives are available by email and phone to assist locals as we work through the various issues.

Please keep the following principals in mind:

• Employers have legal obligations to ensure that the workplace is safe. Employers should inform employees if there is a risk of exposure and ensure that appropriate precautionary measures are taken.

• All employees are of 90 days or longer are entitled to unpaid leave due to the illness, injury or quarantine. Many collective agreements will allow for paid leave.

• At the time of writing this, the provincial government has promised paid sick leave for all who do not have it, but they have not provided any details of how that will work.

• If you are not sick, but need to stay at home to care for a child or family member, all employees are entitled to up to five days unpaid leave per year if the leave is necessary (a) for the health of the employee, or (b) for the employee to meet his or her family responsibilities in relation to a family member. Again, individual collective agreements might provide more leave or paid leave.

Where work can be done remotely or from an employee’s home, CUPE will ask employers to do so. In particular, employees with compromised immune systems need to be accommodated.

Schools and daycares have been cancelled, which creates a serious challenge for many workers. Employers have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. This means employers may need to be flexible with hours of work, change schedules and allow employees to work from home where possible.

Employers also have a duty to accommodate where employees are required to self-isolate or provide care because family members are sick.

CUPE staff and elected representatives will continue to be available to assist with all manner of workplace issues. Please reach out to your job steward or local representative if you need assistance.