Message from the UTE National H & S Committee re: COVID-19

March 20, 2020

Although the employer has greatly reduced the number of employees who must work in CRA offices over the past few days, and continues to take steps to increase the number of telework arrangements given the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of our members continues to be top of mind. 

It is why we advise that any member who is either from the vulnerable sector (65 years of age or older and/or who has a compromised immune system) or who resides with someone who fits that description, should make a request to their supervisor for telework if they have not done so already. If telework is impossible, the member should request to be sent home on paid leave for other reasons (code 6990). 

Similarly, any member who must report to a CRA office for work and who feels psychologically affected by the current situation to the point where they feel they could not function in the workplace, should request a telework arrangement. If telework is impossible, the member should request to be sent home on paid leave for other reasons (code 6990). The employer will assess each request on an individual basis.

Finally, some members have asked questions about their right to refuse dangerous work under the Canada Labour Code, and whether it should be invoked in this situation. It is the UTE's opinion that, though it is open to members to invoke that right without the need for union involvement, members should first seek union assistance and address any issues with their supervisor in an attempt to resolve them as soon as possible. If a given issue cannot be resolved locally, they should seek assistance from their RVP.  Where the issue cannot be resolved regionally, it should be brought to the attention of the UTE National Office. With the employer operating with more flexibility than usual, and with the UTE's commitment to working co-operatively with all levels of management in these exceptional circumstances, this approach will likely be more effective and efficient than invoking the right to refuse at the outset.

Please do not hesitate to contact your RVP, Mathieu Juneau or myself with any questions. 

In Solidarity,

Doug Gaetz's signature

Doug Gaetz,
Chair, UTE National Health and Safety Committee