Coronavirus – COVID-19

Practical guide on work organization

Updated : April 14, 2020

All Quebec businesses, their managers, and their employees have a role to play in reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

 

This guide, intended for organizations and their leaders, completes the information issued by the government and public health authorities.

This guide offers some recommendations and aspects to consider so that businesses can fully take up their social role and thus contribute to slowing down the spread of the virus within their companies while maintaining a high level of economic activity.

Quebec public health emergency,
declared on March 13, 2020

Prohibition of indoor and outdoor gatherings
Respect for a physical distance of two meters from other people outside the home
Closure of all establishments within the education network until May 1st, inclusively
Closure of essential businesses every Sunday in April, excluding gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and take-out orders in restaurants
Beginning March 25th at midnight, all travelers returning home to Canada must go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days according to new measures being enacted under the Quarantine Act. These people need to be alert and watch their symptoms.

Duties and
Obligations

According to the Quebec Labor Code, companies have an obligation regarding occupational health and safety towards their employees, especially in the event of a pandemic like the one we are currently experiencing.
Companies are required to implement all means appropriate to the risks incurred and must organize themselves to anticipate and limit the spread of the virus in all contexts, while keeping in mind the needs of employees.
The obligations of organizations are increasing. Monitor your obligations every day.

Duties and
Obligations

According to the Quebec Labor Code, companies have an obligation regarding occupational health and safety towards their employees, especially in the event of a pandemic like the one we are currently experiencing.

Companies are required to implement all means appropriate to the risks incurred and must organize themselves to anticipate and limit the spread of the virus in all contexts, while keeping in mind the needs of employees.
The obligations of organizations are increasing. Monitor your obligations every day.

Reminder about Basic Precautions

These include

Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a handkerchief when you cough.

Wash your hands often with soapy water for 20 seconds.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Other Measures

1. Remote Work

COVID-19 is most commonly spread by respiratory droplets (sneezing), physical contact with an infected person, or with an infected surface.

Remote work from home for all roles where possible is therefore the approach to adopt in order to slow the spread of the virus by limiting contact between people.

Teleworking with children presents some challenges and therefore managers should demonstrate flexibility. See the Best Practices section for more details.

At the height of the pandemic, all non-essential jobs involving travel to the workplace must cease.

2. Quarantine

3. Business Trips

Businesses should cancel unnecessary trips everywhere, especially to at-risk areas.

Also, it is reasonable to think that it would be legitimate for an employee to exercise his/her right of refusal if an employer insisted on sending him/her to a risk zone.

The Canadian government currently recommends that all Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice. In addition, the borders of many countries are closed, forcing to stop any travelling abroad.

In addition, the Canadian government prohibits Canadians with symptoms of COVID-19 from taking domestic flights or the train in Canada.

We also remind you that road checks have been put in place to limit entry and exit in several regions in Quebec.

4. Contaminated employees

If an employee declares his/her contamination before returning to the workplace, the employer is responsible for asking him/her for a medical certificate before reinstating him in the workplace.

If an employee presents him or herself at the workplace while being contaminated, the employer also has a duty to contact the public health authorities to find out the appropriate measures for decontaminating the premises and managing the situation.

Best Practices

1. Businesses have great potential to limit the spread of the virus with the following measures:

  • Adopt constant communication with managers and employees in order to minimize the panic and the anxiety-provoking climate that such a crisis can cause.
  • Give decision-making power to managers as part of the daily management of their team.
  • Encourage managers to communicate frequently with their employees and innovate in their approaches to minimize the risk of contagion and facilitate remote collaboration when it is possible.

2. Only priority activities should be maintained. Employees need to feel safe to cope well with the crisis. Keep in mind that many of your employees will have to do their work with children at home. Demonstrate flexibility during the crisis.

3. Transparency is often preferable to uncertainty and rumors. In the event of an economic slowdown for the business, and within the limits of its ability, it is strongly suggested to explore alternative measures before temporary layoffs, such as voluntary leave without pay, reduced hours, recruitment freeze, etc. Once again, when possible remote working should be encouraged to maintain activities and ensure continuous remuneration for employees. In this context, remember that workers who cannot report to their jobs because of the virus, who have exhausted sick leave or other authorized absences, will have employment insurance benefits available immediately, without a waiting period.

4. In the context of maintaining essential services and resuming priority economic activities, employers are invited to be flexible in the work schedules of their staff, so as, for example, to limit the crowds present in public transportation, during rush hour.

5. Remember that employee retention remains a crucial issue for companies. When the crisis is over, it is all of the employee support measures that employers have implemented, while respecting the limits of their abilities, that will make a difference and have a positive impact on the retention of talent.

6. Remote Work with children: Here are a few suggestions to allow yourself time to adapt, avoid pitfalls and revise your concept of productivity (for yourself, or as a manager, for others).

 

Direct and/or operate by project or objective and review priorities

  • Work with results in mind
  • Experiment with flexible schedules to reduce anxiety
  • Quantify productivity instead of in hours, speed of response, or presence in front of the computer

Organize virtual team meetings

  • Ensure a common understanding of collective and individual priorities
  • Maintain individual statuses
  • Take stock regularly to adjust

Include children in your work schedule by establishing a real work and family rhythm

  • Use regular transit time to take time with them
  • Extend your work schedule without spending all your time working

 

Example Schedule with Children

5 am to 7 am: physical activity, emails, and urgent projects at work block 1
7:30 am-8 am: breakfast with children
8 am-10am: work block 2 (+ -2h)
10am: snack break or organization of the next home work/children’s block
10:30 am – noon: work block 3 (+ -1h)
Noon-1 pm: family break / dinner
1 pm-3pm: work block 4 (+ -2h)
3 pm-4pm: activity with children
4 pm-4:30pm: work and emails (+ -30 min)
4.30-7pm: family obligations and children’s activities
7pm-9pm: emails, urgent projects, work block 5 (+ -2h)
10pm: rest
Note that the possibilities for telework schedules with children are endless and every day can be different. Be creative and accommodating to yourself and others.

Employers must participate:
Your relationship to telework, your empathy, and your openness will influence the current engagement and performance of your employees as well as their future retention.

Recap

  • Listen to your employees
  • Demonstrate leadership
  • Be fair
  • Stay on the lookout and adapt your measures to your context and changing situation
  • Communicate frequently
  • Accept different working rhythms
  • Keep an eye on the news and make adjustments every day – the situation is changing rapidly