Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) has shared with Providence, effective immediately, new information regarding the definition of essential employees, employees caring for children or family members, employees with underlying health conditions and employees who are pregnant.

Determining ¡°Essential¡± Employees
As communicated in previous bulletins, essential workers are people who provide services that are considered critical to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning; and who have been determined by their leadership, on an individual basis, to be critical to delivering these essential services.

The designation of an essential employee is specific to this crisis and the unique circumstances at each site. These assessments will be done individually and revisited regularly to ensure the designation is still applicable.

Non-essential staff returning from travel
Employees who are determined by their leaders to be non-essential for the provision of safe patient care should self-isolate at home and should not attend work for 14 days after their return to Canada. If it is not feasible for such employees to work from home, they will be placed on a paid general leave of absence for the duration of their self-isolation.

Essential staff returning from travel
Employees who return from travel outside Canada and who are essential to the delivery of patient care and required to return to the workplace must take additional precautions to reduce the risk of transmission to their patients, colleagues and the public. Essential employees coming to work must be asymptomatic and must take the following precautions:

  • Self-monitor daily for signs and symptoms of illness;
  • Wear a surgical mask at all times and in all areas of your workplace;
  • Follow infection prevention and control protocols including diligent hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment when delivering patient care;
  • Reduce close contact with other health care workers and avoid shared spaces where possible;
  • Avoid close contact with others when travelling to and from work and between shifts; and
  • Self-isolate at home on days when not required at your workplace.

Staff with Underlying Health Conditions 
Employees with underlying health conditions who are at a higher risk for serious illness due to COVID-19 will be treated as a medical accommodation. In the current circumstances, the PHC’s accommodation assessment will be done quickly and will not involve requirements for staff to provide further medical documentation.

Employees with underlying health conditions can expect to:

  • Be redeployed the to avoid direct patient care or otherwise minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19; or
  • Work from home where possible. Please see information here on working remotely.

If these options are unavailable, the employee may be placed on sick leave - the same as any other employee with a medical condition that prevents them from working. These accommodations will be granted on a temporary basis and revisited once the current pressure on the health care system has subsided.

Employees Who Are Pregnant
Questions and concerns have been raised regarding the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during pregnancy. We anticipate receiving further guidance from the Ministry of Health regarding the impact and health risks of COVID-19 in relation to employees who are pregnant. Until further information is available, pregnant employees who are concerned about attending work due to COVID-19 will be accommodated as per the process outlined above for employees with an underlying health condition.

If a pregnant employee cannot be accommodated and must remain away from work, that employee will be placed on sick leave.

Providence and our partners will continue to seek additional information regarding the issue of exposure to COVID-19 during pregnancy and we will provide further guidance as information becomes available.

This page last updated Mar 23, 2020 8:15am PDT