COVID-19 - 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Employment COVID-19 FAQs

As of March 17, employees are asked to work from home when operationally possible.

Employees who are required to perform a critical function and/or whose physical presence is necessary to perform their work as determined by their supervisor will need to continue to come to campus. Please speak to your supervisor for clarification as to whether you are required to attend work on campus. The University will work to minimize the disruption of this change on staff members.

Where possible, individuals should work from home. In some cases, employees who perform a critical function will not have the technology to work remotely and will need to attend work on campus. Some essential services can be performed remotely.  The key consideration will be whether the work can be performed at home, assuming technology is available.

U of G’s Human Resources team is available to address employment questions related to COVID-19.

Our Academics FAQs have information for students with experiential learning placements including work study, co-op, internships and practicums.

Accommodations and Leave Options

There are a number of options available to U of G employees who cannot work for any reason related to COVID-19.

If you need time off work, there are a number of leave options that exist under various Human Resources Policies, Employee Agreements and through the Employment Standards Act.

To understand the options that are available and which option might be best for you, please contact your HR Consultant or your Faculty and Academic Staff Relations representative (fasr_questions@uoguelph.ca). To understand the benefit implications associated with a leave of absence from work, please contact your HR Service Associate.

To access a leave of absence of ten days or more, complete a Leave of Absence Request Form and submit it to your immediate supervisor for approval.

Under the Employment Standards Act, the Government of Ontario has created two new leave of absence provisions to assist employees who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: Declared Emergency Leave and Infectious Disease Emergency Leave.

Full details about each leave type are available on the COVID-19 tools and resources section of the Human Resources website. By way of a summary:

  • Both of these leaves are without pay
  • Subject to specific criteria being met, these leaves provide for a job protected leave of absence for employees who are prevented from working as a result of COVID-19, who are ill or in quarantine, or who are unable to work as a result of the closure of public schools and daycares
  • If you want to continue receiving your benefits during the leave, both leaves require you to maintain cost-sharing of your benefits
  • If you are a member of a U of G pension plan, you can continue to accrue service time during your leave by making your required contributions to the plan

To understand how each of these options affects your specific situation and which option might be best for you, contact your HR Consultant. To understand the benefit implications of each options, please contact your HR Service Associate.

To access either the Declared Emergency Leave or the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, please submit the leave request in writing to your immediate supervisor using the Leave of Absence Request Form.

The University may require evidence but will not request a medical note to justify the leave.

To report your absence, please complete the Self-Declaration Form and contact your manager, chair or division head following your unit’s normal absence reporting practice. 

Given changes to federal support programs, effective April 20, 2020, temporary full-time, part-time and student employees who have exhausted paid sick leave benefits and are required to self-isolate or be off sick due to a COVID-19 related absence, will be placed on an infectious disease emergency leave. Human Resources will generate a record of employment for those employees on this leave, so that they can make an application for employment insurance sickness benefits.

Individuals will be required to submit a Self-Declaration Form and notify their immediate supervisor of their requirement to be absent.

U of G’s normal accommodation processes will be used to address such needs. Speak with your supervisor for more information and assistance.

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, employees are asked to work from home when operationally possible.

In addition to working from home, where feasible, access to vacation leave, lieu time, the extension of family responsibility time or modification of working hours should be used to help employees meet childcare needs. Employees who are unable to perform their job duties due to child care responsibilities can consider taking an unpaid Declared Emergency Leave.

More information on types of leave available from the University are on the HR website.

Full details about the Declared Emergency Leave and Infections Disease Emergency Leave are available from Human Resources.

The University has entered into agreements with applicable employee groups around a one-time increase of family responsibility time from seven to 14 days, for regular full-time staff and from two to five days for temporary full-time staff, to assist with family care needs during this period, in accordance with existing policy/provisions in collective agreements.

Pay and Benefits

All employees are asked to enroll in direct deposit to ensure they can receive their pay.  Starting with the April 2 pay deposit, any paper pay cheques will be mailed to an individual’s home address currently on file with Human Resources.

As this situation continues to develop, it may become difficult or impossible to produce manual cheques and therefore it is strongly recommended that employees shift to direct deposit to ensure they don’t experience unnecessary delays in receiving bi-weekly pay.  Employees can enter their direct deposit information online through the Employee Self-Service Portal.

Regular full-time employees and temporary full-time employees within their contractual term will continue to receive their normal pay and benefits until further direction is received, even if they can’t complete their job duties from home.

For other employees, after April 2, 2020, the following payroll guidelines will apply:

  • Part-time and student employees (including co-op students) who are able to perform their normal duties remotely or who are providing crucial services and working on-campus with the approval of their supervisor, will continue to be paid in accordance with their hours worked and will receive their normal entitlements based on those hours.
  • As of April 3, 2020, part-time and student employees (including co-op students) who do not meet the above criteria will no longer be compensated. Pay will cease until such time as additional work becomes available. The University will work with departments to determine the part-time and student employees who are no longer being paid to ensure Records of Employment (ROEs) are released as applicable.
  • Work study students will be paid until the end of their work term.

Employees who cannot perform their normal duties from home may be assigned other duties to provide support to other employees or areas, based on departmental or University priorities.

Student employees (including co-op students) who are able to perform their normal duties remotely or who are providing crucial services and working  on-site with the approval of their supervisor, will continue to be paid in accordance with their hours worked and will receive their normal entitlements based on those hours.

Student employees (including co-op students) who do not meet the above criteria will no longer be compensated as of April 3, 2020. Pay will cease until such time as additional work becomes available.

The University will work with departments to determine the part-time and student employees who are no longer being paid to ensure release of records of employment (ROEs) as applicable.

Information for work study students is in the next FAQ.

Work study students will continue to be paid until the end of their work term.

For Employees – Working on Campus

The University of Guelph is working hard to protect the safety of those whose job duties require them to attend campus. Employees who are attending campus for work are encouraged to follow best practices for physical distancing and hygiene to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This may include rearranging tasks, staggering relief periods, alternate shift scheduling and other operational adjustments as practical.

Our custodial staff have enhanced their regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout the workplace. Employees who may be working alone should speak to their supervisors in accordance with our Working Alone Policy to develop a plan for employees’ safety. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is available to provide guidance on working safely during COVID-19 and can be reached at ehs@uoguelph.ca.

Human Resources has compiled Guidelines for employees travelling in a vehicle. If you are using a U of G vehicle or travelling with a colleague, please follow these guidelines.

Human Resources has compiled guidelines on How to Work Safely Inside an Occupied Residence for all employees who are required to work inside an occupied unit in the student residence (e.g., East Townhouses) and the family housing sites (e.g., College Avenue and Wellington Woods), in order to prevent transmission of COVID-19 between employees and occupants.

For Employees – Working Remotely

Setting up a Remote Work Space

If extenuating circumstances require faculty or staff to retrieve items from campus, they must seek approval from their department chair or directore. Graduate students must request approval from their department chair through their faculty supervisor.

If a request is approved, temporary building access will be provided by the department manager. Once necessary work is completed or items are acquired, please leave campus immediately. Facilities are being maintained to support essential operations only.

If you intend to take office equipment home for your remote work space, see the next FAQ for process.

You have two options if you need office furniture or equipment to support your work-from-home setup.

Option 1: Temporary use of equipment from the workplace
With your supervisor’s advance permission, some equipment from your on-campus office can be taken home for temporary use while you are working remotely. If you intend to take furniture or equipment home:

  1. Contact your supervisor or department head to coordinate access to your work location
  2. Ensure you can safely remove, prepare, load and unload equipment when you get to campus and when you return home before attempting to move. If you need assistance, please contact David Horne (dhorne@pr.uoguelph.ca) in Physical Resources to coordinate.

Occupational Health and Safety has provided general guidelines for setting up an ergonomic work space at home, but cannot provide home assessments.

Items that can be temporarily removed from your office area include:

  • Office chair
  • PC
  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Printer

Be sure to take the related cords and cables so you can connect everything at home.

It is the employee’s responsibility to obtain approval from their supervisor before removing anything from the workplace. When removing office equipment, we ask that you take a photo of the equipment, and email the photo to your supervisor, copying in your finance or administrative assistant, stating “I have taken the [item – with its asset number if available] home for use during the work-from-home period, and I agree to return it to my office at the University once we resume on-campus activity.”

Option 2: Acquisition of equipment (e.g., desk, chair, etc.)
Employees purchasing office furniture that they wish to retain can do so and request a T2200 be completed by the appropriate vice-president, dean or associate vice-president for the 2020 tax year. Please note that a signed T2200 does not provide an employee with any assurances that expenses incurred are tax deductible. The eligibility to deduct employment expenses is a matter between the employee and the Canada Revenue Agency. Please see HR Policy 316 for more information on the T2200 process. You can also refer to information on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website:

If you can’t acquire existing equipment from the workplace, with your supervisor’s advance permission, you can order necessary equipment.

Departments are encouraged to limit the purchase of new home office equipment for exceptional circumstances. Expense claims must be submitted for reimbursement for these costs. Costs should be charged to your home department using object code “63802 – Furniture <$5K”.

The employee and their supervisor should determine whether the employee will be keeping the equipment or whether they will return the equipment to the University. This should be clearly indicated in the Notes/Purpose section of the claim header as well as the expense description line of the claim form.

For example, the expense description would be “Office Chair – Personal” or “Office Chair – U of G”.

If the employee will keep the equipment, the reimbursement will be flagged as a taxable benefit, and will appear as part of the employee’s T4 for 2020.

If the employee will return the equipment, there will be no tax implication.

Please discuss your ability to work from home, including technological limitations, with your supervisor.

Human Resources has compiled the following resources to help make your remote work space more ergonomic. Find more tips for setting up an ergonomic workstation under Working From Home on the Gryphon Family portal.

To order office supplies for your remote work space, see “Can I order office supplies from the University’s SMCs and have the orders delivered to my home?” on the COVID-19 Procurement Operations Update website.

Orders placed with the University’s SMC suppliers with GL Coding will only be delivered to University office locations.

In order to support the current remote work arrangement, the University has arranged with several office supply SMCs to extend the University’s contract pricing to employee’s orders.  The process requires employees to order supplies as personal purchases and submit those costs as expense claims for reimbursement. Where applicable, employees should follow the existing approval protocol in their area to obtain approval for such purchases.

Logistics While Working Remotely

Computing and Communications Services (CCS) has a number of tools that can help you work from home. Visit their Working Remotely page for details.

CCS also has advice on how to work from home securely to protect your devices, your personal information and the University when you’re online.

Please visit the CCS Help web page for assistance if you need technical support for your remote workstation.

If you subscribed to home internet service prior to the March 17 notice to begin working from home, those services cannot be claimed.

Many internet providers have agreed to waive usage fees for households exceeding their data plans.

If you can show that you are incurring incrementally new costs, those costs may be eligible to be claimed, subject to your supervisor’s approval. For instance, if you had a new internet service installed, or if you upgraded your service, you will need to provide a copy of the bill that shows the date of install or upgrade occurred on or after March 17.  Such incremental increases can be submitted through the expense claim process (ECS system).  Visit the financial services website for information on how to submit a claim.

Any incremental charges incurred on your home phone bill can be claimed through the expense claim process (ECS system). Visit the financial services website for information on how to submit a claim.

Jabber is an application that allows you to remotely place and receive calls from your office extension on your cell phone, laptop or tablet. You may  want to contact the CCS Help Centre to determine whether the use of Jabber may be appropriate. You can reach the CCS Help Centre at 519-824-4120 Ext. 58888, via email at IThelp@uoguelph.ca.

Any incremental charges incurred on your personal cell phone bill can be claimed through the expense claim process (ECS system). Visit the financial services website for information on how to submit a claim. Base service rates can only be claimed if you acquired the service after March 17.

Please note that video conferencing should be kept to a minimum when using cellular data to minimize data costs incurred.

Jabber is an application that allows you to remotely place and receive calls from your office extension on your cell phone, laptop or tablet. You may  want to contact the CCS Help Centre to determine whether the use of Jabber may be appropriate. You can reach the CCS Help Centre at 519-824-4120 Ext. 58888, via email at IThelp@uoguelph.ca.

For documents, scanned document delivery should be used as much as possible. Many organizations have shifted their requirements and are now accepting scanned/PDF documents.

If you are advised that you need to send hard copies with wet signatures for research financial administration, contact RFSacctsetup@uoguelph.ca. We have successfully coordinated acceptance of digital signature options in lieu of paper options for many funding agencies.

Once all other options have been exhausted, couriers may be used. Please reach out to purchasing.helpdesk@uoguelph.ca for guidance on how to proceed with this option.

Additional information about shipping and receiving of goods and services for ongoing essential operations can be found on the financial services website.

Finance has posted a Financial Services Guidelines document, for anyone needing further information about how to process invoices, cheque requests, expense claims, Pcard payments, procurement, etc. This document will be updated as needed.

Expectations While Working Remotely

Yes. As of Tuesday, March 17, employees are asked to work from home where operationally possible.

If you are required to perform a critical function or your presence on campus is necessary to perform your job duties (as determined by your supervisor), you will need to continue to come to campus. Please speak to your supervisor for clarification as to whether you are required to work on campus and how to do so safely.

The University will work to minimize the disruption of this change on staff members. Employees working from home will continue to receive their regular pay during this period.

Temporary Work from Home Guidelines have been designed to assist employees and their supervisors in assessing the suitability and expectations of a temporary work-from-home arrangement where an employee has been impacted by COVID-19. Employees and their supervisors must complete the Work from Home Self-Assessment Checklist prior to commencing a work from home arrangement. Please contact your HR Consultant for more information.

If you are responding to emails regularly, you many not need to use an auto-reply. Talk with your supervisor about the best option for your unit.

While you are working remotely, you can consider adding the following out-of-office auto-replies to your uoguelph.ca email account. These auto-reply messages can be customized based on your working arrangement.  You can find instructions on updating your Outlook auto-reply for a desktop Windows operating system, the Outlook web app and a Mac operating system online.

Sample auto-reply message for internal recipients:
Use this auto-reply message only for emails received from U of G accounts. 

“Working remotely” – you may include other details such as an alternate phone number where you can be reached

 [For those who receive regular emails from students, please include the following]

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious about COVID-19, the following supports are available:

    • contact Counselling Services at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53244 (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
    • text “UofG” to 686868 using your text- or SMS-enabled device
    • call Good2Talk 1-866-925-5454

or

“Working on campus”

Sample working remotely auto-reply message for external recipients:
Use this auto-reply only for messages received from outside U of G (check the “auto-reply to people outside my organization” box).

“Due to concerns about COVID-19 and with the goal of increasing physical distancing, most University of Guelph employees are working remotely. The University remains open and operational, but services have been reduced. My response to your message may be delayed.

Up-to-date information about the University of Guelph’s response to the coronavirus pandemic may be found on our COVID-19 website – https://uoguel.ph/COVID19 – and social media channels.

The University of Guelph is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation in consultation with public health and taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our U of G community.”

Please customize and record the following message as your voicemail greeting to let callers know how to reach you. If you need help changing your voicemail message, find instructions on the CCS Voicemail web page.

“Absence alert. You have reached the voicemail of [NAME] in the [UNIT] at the University of Guelph.

Due to concerns about COVID-19 and with the goal of increasing physical distancing, I am working remotely until further notice. Please send me an email at [email address] and I will respond to you as soon as possible. Please note that my response may be delayed. Thank you for your patience.

You can find the most up-to-date information about the University of Guelph’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on our COVID-19 website, which is accessible through the University’s main website – www.uoguelph.ca – or check our social media channels.

Thank you.”

Unless you are advised otherwise by your supervisor, when working remotely, you are expected to be available during your normal working hours and to perform your regular duties, including answering emails, responding to voice messages and participating in conference calls and virtual meetings, etc.

For information on how to access your voicemail remotely, visit CCS’s Voicemail web page.

Depending on the nature of your role and the work-from-home arrangements you have made with your supervisor, you may be required to receive work-related calls at home.

If you need to be able to answer work-related calls remotely, email the CCS Help Desk  (IThelp@uoguelph.ca) and ask to have Jabber set up. Jabber is an application that allows you to remotely place and receive calls from your office extension on your cell phone, laptop or tablet.

In your request please include:

  • Your extension
  • Your User ID from your central login credentials

A high volume of these requests are anticipated. We appreciate your patience in filling your request.

If you are not expected to reroute your U of G extension to your personal phone, please record the following message on your voicemail with to let callers know how to reach you:

“Absence alert. You have reached the voicemail of [NAME] in the [UNIT] at the University of Guelph.

I am working remotely until further notice. Please send me an email at [email address] and I will respond to you within one business day. Thank you for your patience.

You can find the most up-to-date information about the University of Guelph’s response to the coronavirus outbreak on our COVID-19 website which is accessible through the University’s main website – www.uoguelph.ca – or check our social media channels.

Thank you.”

If you need help changing your voicemail message, find instructions on the CCS Voicemail web page.

Your normal job duties may differ during this time. Each unit will have its own areas of focus that may be adjusted to support the University’s broader priorities. Ask your supervisor for guidance on how your job duties may be different at this time or as the situation progresses.

There may be opportunities within and outside your unit to help colleagues who need it. U of G will be actively seeking those who are willing to take on alternate duties and asking employees to support other areas. Please discuss ways you can help with your supervisor.

Supports While Working Remotely

Self-isolation

To report your absence, please complete the Self-Declaration Form and contact your manager, chair or division head following your unit’s normal absence reporting practice. 

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, employees are asked to work from home when operationally possible. If you are able to work from home, you will be expected to do so during the self-isolation period.

If it is not possible for you to work from home, you will be provided access to sick leave with pay in accordance with your existing entitlements.

If you develop symptoms during your self-isolation period, do not come to campus. Contact your health care provider or Telehealth for guidance.

If your health status changes during your self-isolation period, please notify your supervisor and Occupational Health and Wellness at ohw@uoguelph.ca or 519-824-4120 Ext. 52647. They will advise you of next steps.

Please contact your health care provider or Telehealth for advice. Based on your individual circumstances, if your health care provider indicates you should self-isolate too, please contact your supervisor and Occupational Health and Wellness for additional direction.

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, employees are asked to work from home when operationally possible.

Do not come to work during your 14-day self-isolation period. Please contact your supervisor to discuss next steps.

For Supervisors

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, employees are asked to work from home when operationally possible. Employees who are required to perform a critical function and/or whose physical presence is necessary to perform their work as determined by their supervisor will need to continue to come to campus.

For employees who are able to perform their jobs duties remotely, ensure:

  • the employee has the needed IT security protocols to work remotely (e.g., VPN, software, hardware, etc.). Visit CCS’s Working Remotely page for support.
  • if possible, the employee has a workstation off-campus that can support a remote work arrangement (e.g., ergonomic workstations, secure document storage, etc.)

Temporary Work from Home Guidelines have been designed to assist employees and their supervisors in assessing the suitability and expectations of a temporary work from home arrangement where an employee has been impacted by COVID-19. Employees and their supervisors must complete the Work from Home Self-Assessment Checklist prior to commencing a work from home arrangement. Please contact your HR Consultant for more information.