What employers should do
Employers are asked to consider having workers work remotely (e.g. work from home) where practicable, as part of the effort to slow the progression of COVID-19 (coronavirus) through social distancing.
The first step is to assess whether workers need to come to work.
When considering if and when workers can be kept out of the workplace, employers should:
- Curtail non-essential work at the workplace.
- Consider having workers work remotely (e.g. work from home).
Once it is deemed workers can work from home, employers needs to consider health and safety responsibilities when working from home.
To support this practice, WorkSafe Saskatchewan suggests the following guidelines for employer and worker responsibilities, to ensure their workspace is healthy and safe.
Develop a health and safety policy
Employers should ensure their health and safety policy includes provisions for working from home and that each party understands their role, duties and responsibilities.
The policy should require employees to conduct an assessment of their workplace and report any hazards to their manager. An example of some other factors to consider in this policy include:
- Protocols for evacuating from the home or temporary workplace to a safe location, if needed, and how to contact the employer in case of an emergency.
- Discussion of safe workplace practices and how to report any work-related incidents or injuries.
- Discussion of ergonomic considerations.
- Communication between employer and worker.
- Availability of tools and technology to enable staff to work remotely.
- Protocols to protect a worker’s health and safety.
- Contact with customers, if applicable (e.g. practices that limit direct contact).
Key health and safety requirements when working from home
Many health and safety roles, rights and responsibilities are just as applicable for at-home workers as they are for more traditional workplaces, including:
- Reporting workplace injuries.
- Requirements for education and training.
- Worker’s duty to follow safe work procedures.
- Requiring Check-in and other procedures if the worker is working alone or in isolation.
Some health and safety requirements will need to be administered in different ways for at-home staff, including:
- The role of the worker’s supervisor will need to be outlined.
- Ergonomic assessments will need to be performed and control measures implemented.
- How the employer will follow-up on reported incidents will require special consideration in advance of any work being done from a residence.
Employers should ensure the following workers do not come to work:
- Workers who are ill, whether or not the illness has been confirmed as COVID-19.
- Workers who have travelled internationally. In these cases, they must remain away from the workplace for at least 14 days.
- Workers who have an ill person in their home.
- Workers who share a residence with a person who has been exposed to COVID-19.
Workers who have been exposed to anyone confirmed to have COVID-19, or to anyone with possible symptoms of COVID-19, should call the Saskatchewan Health Line at 811 to determine any necessary next steps.
Put social distancing and other preventative measures in place
If it is necessary for workers to come to work, employers should take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The priority should be to take steps to ensure social distancing is practiced in your workplace, including:
- Reconfiguring the workplace to maintain appropriate distance between workers, if practicable.
- Limiting in-person gatherings and encouraging practices like teleconferences as an alternative.
- Limiting worker travel.
Additional measures will depend on the workplace, but would generally include:
- Educating workers on health and safety measures to prevent transmission of infectious disease.
- Increasing workplace cleaning, providing the necessary supplies and reinforcing personal hygiene messages to workers.
Questions and answers about COVID‐19 leaves in the workplace
We know that as employers are making decisions about how best to ensure the health and safety of workers and of citizens they serve there are a number of questions that have arisen. The Government of Saskatchewan has developed some questions and answers to assist employers and employees at this time. For more information click here.