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Covid-19 Retail Q&A

There are many questions surrounding Covid-19. Below are some of the most common questions with answers that the Union has received.

What can I do if I am asked to help a customer who will not wear a mask?

You can exercise your Right to Refuse Unsafe Work by following these steps:

  1. Workers must report the work refusal to their supervisor and explain why they believe the work is dangerous. The supervisor and worker work together to assess the risk and resolve the concern. If unsure, it is often helpful to engage human resources or other technical experts during this stage.
  2. If the employer and the worker are unable to agree on a resolution, a worker representative from the safety and health committee, or another worker can be brought in to help assess the situation and attempt to resolve the issue.
  3. If the situation cannot be resolved and the worker still feels the work is dangerous for them to perform, Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) can be contacted to determine whether work can continue. WSH considers the right to refuse a high priority issue and every attempt is made to respond quickly. WSH can be contacted 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at

REMEMBER! You are not refusing to work; you are refusing to do the task you believe to be unsafe. It is very important you follow the rules below in order to be protected by the law.

How do I go on a Leave of Absence? Will my job be there when I return?

Employees are always able to request a leave of absence from their employer in accordance with their Collective Agreement. There is currently no legislation in Manitoba that requires employers to grant leave of absence requests in relation to COVID-19, although this may change as many other provinces have passed recent legislation to provide for such leaves.

If your employer grants you a leave of absence they would be required to return you to work after the expiry of the leave, unless there are valid business reasons not to. For example, a legitimate layoff done in accordance with the collective agreement.

Can I refuse to work even if I don’t have any risk factors or childcare issues?

Employees can only refuse to work if the employee has a reasonable belief that the work they have to perform is dangerous or that the workplace itself constitutes a danger to the employee’s health and safety.

If you are worried or anxious about getting the virus you may want to request an unpaid leave of absence in accordance with your collective agreement. You can also see your doctor about your concerns and follow any recommendations made. The Employer’s duty to accommodate still exists during the pandemic.

Can I refuse unsafe work?

Yes, under the Workplace Safety and Health Act and/or your collective agreement, all employees have the right to refuse work that they reasonably believe constitutes a danger to their safety and health. The right to refuse dangerous work is not to be taken lightly and must be done in accordance with the process set out in the legislation or your collective agreement.

In Manitoba, the process for refusing dangerous work is a follows:

  1. Employees must report the work refusal to the employer and explain why they believe the work is dangerous. The employer and the employee then work together to assess the risk and resolve the concern.
  2. If the employer and employee are unable to agree on a resolution, an employee representative from the safety and health committee, or another employee can be brought in to help assess the situation and attempt to resolve the issue.
  3. If the situation cannot be resolved and the worker still feels the work is dangerous for them to perform, Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) is to be contacted to determine whether or not the work is unsafe. An investigation will be initiated and a decision will be made.

Dangerous work is generally defined as follows and may be applied differently to each individual employee:

  • a hazard that is unusual to the normal working conditions or tasks;
  • a hazard that is increased due to the health or physical condition of the employee;
  • a hazard that is likely to result in serious injury or illness; and reasonable controls have not been put in place to reduce or eliminate the hazard.

Employees generally will get paid during the refusal process, unless WSH grants an exception. Employees may also be assigned other tasks, if appropriate, during the refusal process.

Issues to consider in light of COVID-19 & the right to refuse:

  • Has someone in the workplace been confirmed to have the virus or was very likely exposed to the virus?
  • Is it likely that the workplace is a known or high-risk source of the virus?
  • Is the refusing employee likely to be exposed to the virus while performing the work?
  • Does the employee have a pre-existing medical condition that places them at an increased risk of serious illness should they be exposed to the virus?
  • Does the employee have access to adequate hand-washing or sanitation facilities and personal protective equipment?
  • Has the employee been properly trained on all safety precautions?
  • Has the employer enforced social distancing and provided a sanitized workplace?

Loblaw – What do I do if I’m sent home from work, either because I’m positive with COVID, or I’m a contact?

What To Do If:

  1. You are told to stay home while waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test
  2. You have to self-isolate
  3. You test positive for Covid-19
  • If you are Part-Time on Tier 1, you can use your sick time from PBAS while off waiting for a result.
  • If you are Full-Time or Part-Time on Tier 2, you can use you sick days from the company plan.
  • If you are Part-Time on Tier 1 and are told to self-isolate, or you test positive for Covid-19, you will want to access the Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit
    (see below).
  • If you are Full-Time or Part-Time on Tier 2, you can apply for Short Term Disability which would cover 70% of your basic weekly earnings.
    You may also apply for the CSRB – Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit

Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit (at Canada.ca):
CRSB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.
The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period.
If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

  • If your illness continues and you cannot return to work, you will need to apply for Short Term Disability if you are Full-Time or Part-Time on Tier 2.
    If you are Part-Time on Tier 1, you will need to apply for EI Sickness Benefits.

 

Loblaw Health and Welfare Plan Office Number: 204-982-6087
Email: winnipeg@pbas.ca

To apply for the CSRB please visit Canada.ca.

 

Red River Co-op – What do I do if I’m sent home from work, either because I’m positive with COVID, or I’m a contact?

What to do if you are told to stay home while waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test or if you have tested positive for Covid-19:

  • If you are Part-Time, you can use your sick time while off waiting for a result. If you are Full-Time, you can use 3 days of your sick time before switching to Weekly Indemnity.
  • If you are Part-time on Plan 2 and test positive for Covid-19, you will want to access the Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit (see below). If you are Full-Time or Part-Time on Plan 1, you can apply for Weekly Indemnity which would cover 70% of your basic weekly earnings. You may also apply the CSRB if you so choose.
  • The Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit (from Canada.ca):
    CRSB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period.If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and
    September 25, 2021.
  • If your illness continues and you cannot return to work, you will need to apply for Weekly Indemnity if you are Full-Time or Part-Time on Plan 1. If you are Part-Time on Plan 2, you will need to apply for EI Sickness Benefits.

 Red River Co-op Health and Welfare Plan Office Number: 204-982-4177

To apply for the CSRB, please visit www.canada.ca

Sobeys West – What do I do if I’m sent home from work, either because I’m positive with COVID, or I’m a contact?

What to do if you are told to stay home while waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test or if you have tested positive for Covid-19:

  • If you are Part-Time, you can use your sick time while off waiting for a result. If you are Full-Time, you can use 3 days of your sick time before switching to Weekly Indemnity.
  • If you are Part-time on Plan 2 and test positive for Covid-19, you will want to access the Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit (see below). If you are Full-Time or Part-Time on Plan 1, you can apply for Weekly Indemnity which would cover 70% of your basic weekly earnings. You may also apply the CSRB if you so choose.
  • The Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit (from Canada.ca):
    CRSB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period.

    If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and
    September 25, 2021.

  • If your illness continues and you cannot return to work, you will need to apply for Weekly Indemnity if you are Full-Time or Part-Time on Plan 1. If you are Part-Time on Plan 2, you will need to apply for EI Sickness Benefits.

Safeway Health and Welfare Plan Office Number: 204-982-4177

To apply for the CSRB, please visit www.canada.ca

Is my Employer required to provide me with protective masks and/or gloves?

Masks are mandatory and provided by your employer, if you don’t have one.

Will I get an extra pay increase as the pandemic continues?

There is no legal requirement for employers to increase pay for workers required to work during the pandemic. Some employers have chosen to do so, some have not.

Do I have to use the chemicals required by my employer to sanitize and clean even though they are making me sick?

The employers’ duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship continues throughout the pandemic. If your job involves the use of chemicals that are making you sick, you may want to see your doctor and request an accommodation. Accommodations may vary from the re-assignment of tasks to the removal from the workplace. If you aren’t able to work you will be eligible for sick leave as provided for in your collective agreement or the CERB.

Is there a limit on the number of customers allowed in a retail store at one time?

The current 5-person gathering restriction does not apply to retail stores.

However there is a 50% capacity being placed on all stores.

Stores also have to ensure that social distancing measures are being enforced. Retail employers need to ensure that there is at least 1 to 2 meters of space between all individuals in the store.

Do I have to go to work if I am sick?

No, you should absolutely not go to work if you are sick.

Employers requiring employees to be at work when they are sick are endangering the safety and health of all other employees and customers, and are arguably in violation of provincial safety and health legislation. If this is happening in your workplace you need to report it to your union representative immediately.

Can I refuse to help customers that are not social distancing?

Employees have the right to refuse dangerous work as long as it is done in accordance with provincial legislation and/or your collective agreement. The government has strongly recommended that all individuals practice social distancing. This would apply to retail stores.

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