COVID-19: Staffing Concerns Q&A

Below you will find a list of common questions with answers regarding staffing concerns relevant to Microboards and Individualized Funding users.
Many of these questions were discussed during one of our online conversations, while we have been contacted about others. 
 
If you would like more detailed answers, please contact your Vela facilitator. As we continue to get more information, we will continue to update our list of Q&As. If you have any questions that aren’t on this list, please email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Emergency COVID-19 Policy Sample
 
We have created an emergency COVID-19 pandemic policy for families and individuals to use with their staff. This policy can be put in place so staff understand your expectations, and their responsibility during COVID-19. Feel free to edit as necessary. document Click here to download the policy. (17 KB)
 
1. Do we have to continue paying staff who are sick or in isolation?
 
This will be up to each Agent or Microboard, but in some circumstances it will make sense to continue paying staff even if they are not working for the time being.
 
2. If we don't want staff entering the individual's home, are we still responsible for paying them?
 
This will be up to each Agent or Microboard, but in some circumstances it will make sense to continue paying staff even if they are not working for the time being.
 
3. If we ask staff to stop working and choose not to continue paying them, what are our options?
  • You can temporarily lay off staff for a period of up to 13 weeks, if your staff will agree to this
  • Or you can terminate their employment ensuring you give proper pay/notice
For more information about laying off staff visit the Employment Standards BC's website.
 
4. What is the process to lay off staff?
 
You will need to give at least the required minimum notice and/or pay as set out by Employment Standards:
  • Employed for three months = one week of notice and/or pay
  • Employed for one year = two weeks of notice and/or pay
  • Employed for three or more years = three weeks of notice and/or pay, plus one week of notice/pay for each additional year of employment (to a maximum of eight weeks
Within 48 hours of ending an employee’s job, you must ensure you give them all wages owed which may include regular wages, overtime, statutory holiday pay, compensation for length of service and vacation pay.
 
You will need to give employees a Record of Employment (ROE) within five calendar days of the first day of an interruption of earnings if you issue paper ROEs, or within five calendar days after the pay period ends if you issue them electronically.
 
 
5. If I choose to have my staff continue to work, what safety procedures should I have in place?
 
Have open conversations with your staff about expectations and procedures moving forward to keep everyone safe. Some possible procedures could include:
  • asking staff to maintain social distancing when not on shift
  • asking staff to only work with one individual/at one place of employment
  • have staff wash hands upon entering the home
  • request that staff bring a set of clean clothes to change into and wear once they enter the home
  • have gloves and masks available for personal care tasks
  • ensure staff are washing hands every 30-60 minutes
  • practice social distancing whenever possible
  • have staff wipe down high traffic touch points twice per shift with disinfectants
For more information on keeping your workers safe, visit WorkSafe BC’s website
 
6. Am I able to ask my staff to do alternate work/tasks during this time?
 
Yes, we encourage staff/Microboards/IF Agents to try and work in different, new, and creative ways during this time to support individuals. Some ideas include:
  • having staff check in via teleconference/phone/text regularly
  • having staff find and research new programs/activities to do once the social distancing period has ended
  • reconfiguring shifts to reduce the number of workers in the home
7. If my staff get sick, am I required to pay sick days?
 
No. Employers do not have to pay for sick days. They can offer paid sick days as a benefit if they choose.
 
8. Can staff apply for Employment Insurance (EI) if they are sick or in quarantine?
 
For staff without paid sick leave, who are sick or quarantined, the Government is waiving the one-week waiting period for those that claim EI sickness benefits. They will also be waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate at this time. Staff who don’t qualify for EI sickness benefits may be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
 
Visit the Government of Canada's - Emplyment Insurance webpage for more information.
 
9. How can staff apply for Employment Insurance (EI)?
 
Please visit the Government of Canada's - Employment Insurance webpage to learn more on who can apply and how.
 
Here is a image helpful, easy to follow, image (94 KB) about Employment Insurance.
 
10. If an order comes down that only essential workers are able to continue working, will my staff fall into this category?
 
At this time we assume caregivers will continue to be seen as essential staff. We are working with other organizations to ensure that the government includes the needs and services for those with disabilities.
 
11. If I have to stay home with my child, what kind of help can I get?
 
Some parents are choosing to bring, or keep their children home, thus becoming the sole caregivers. If you must stay home from your job to do this, you may qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Applications for this benefit will begin in April. Click here for more information.
 
12. How do I order a paper Record of Employment (ROE)?
 
Employers must communicate with the Employer Contact Centre to order paper ROE forms. Service Canada no longer accepts orders for paper ROE forms by fax or mail.
 
When you call, you will be asked to provide the following information:
  • Your 15-character Payroll Account Number (PAN) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The PAN can be found on the CRA PD7A (Statement of account for current source deductions) form. If you do not have a PAN, you will have to request one from CRA, and
  • The name, address and telephone number of your business
 What you should do with each copy of a paper ROE form:
  • Give the 1st copy (the original) to your employee as proof of insurable earnings for claiming EI benefits
  • Send the 2nd copy (blue) to Service Canada as indicated on the form
  • Keep the 3rd copy (white) in your files for 6 years
For more information on Records of Employment, please visit the Government of Canada website
 
13. What code do I put on my Record of Employment (ROE) for reason of separation during the pandemic?
 
If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE).
  • When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.
  • When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.
  • When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary.
14. How Can Employees Obtain or Renew Their First Aid?
 
Community Living BC (CLBC) has put together a guidance document which outlines CLBC’s interim approach to accommodate those awaiting to earn their re-certification. Click here to read the document
 
Here is information on First Aid certification for new employees and re-certification for current employees whose First Aid has expired. This information is for both the Canadian Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance.
 
Re-Certification
  1. Canadian Red Cross certifications expiring between March 1 and June 30 will be extended 90 days beyond their expiry date.
  2. St. John Ambulance certifications expiring between March 17 and June 20 will be extended 90 days beyond their expiry date.
 
New Certifications
 
New certifications can be obtained through an online training course found on the Canadian Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance website.
  • This satisfies First Aid requirements if the new employee is working alongside someone who already has skills training for First Aid. The new employee must also fulfill the training portion of the course within a 90-day period.
  • This is only temporary, so once the physical distancing restrictions are lifted, those who took the online course are still required to take the full course as soon as it’s available.
15. Can families pay themselves if they are providing care?
 
Yes. During COVID-19 – families can directly pay a family member (e.g. parent or spouse) when experiencing challenges with maintaining supports due to staff shortages.