Questions and Answers on COVID-19
SUN has compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding coronavirus disease, including general information about COVID-19, and how the healthcare system's response affects registered nurses in their workplaces. This list will be updated as new information becomes available. Do you have a question we haven't answered? Email your question to SUN Communications.
UPDATED March 25 Q: Will there be any changes to compensation as a result of COVID-19?
A: Yes, and here are the pay codes you can use along with examples of when to use them:
|REG/EXT||TIME DEFINER REASON||NOTES - WHEN TO USE|
|Regular Paid codes||IK/RB||Sick Outbreak - pays at 1.0 (same rules as ID/XD)||Employee is sick due to experiencing signs, symptoms or positive testing of COVID-19. Sick hours come out of employee sick bank.|
|Regular Paid codes||ZK/RA||Outbreak Worked - pays at 1.0 (same rules as ZZ/XZ)||Additional staffing, or an employee is replacing an employee who is experiencing signs, symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.|
|Overtime Paid codes||
Overtime Outbreak - pays at 1.5/2.0 (same as OT/RT)
Overtime Outbreak shifts - pays at 1.5 (same rules as OW/RW)
Overtime Outbreak shifts - pays at 2.0 (same as OX/RX)
|Additional staffing, or an employee is replacing an employee who is experiencing signs, symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, and is entitled to Overtime to work.|
|Overtime Banked codes||
Overtime Outbreak TIL - banks at 1.5/2.0 (same rules as T1/V1)
Overtime Outbreak TIL - banks at 1.5 (same rules as T2/V2)
Overtime Outbreak TIL - banks at 2.0 (same rules as T3/V3)
|Additional staffing, or an employee is replacing employee who is experiencing signs, symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, and is entitled to Overtime and is choosing to bank it.|
|Paid Leave codes||DK/VJ||Paid LOA - pays at 1.0||Employee is in self-isolation as directed by MHO, Healthline (811), or via the COVID-19 online self-assessment tool.|
|Unpaid Leave codes||LK/VK||Unpaid LOA - (same rules as LO/VB)||Employee is on an unpaid LOA as a result of COVID-19.|
UPDATED March 27 Q: If the Employer directs me to self-isolate will I be compensated?
A: Yes, you will be compensated if directed by the Employer to self-isolate. You will use the DK/VJ pay codes for a paid leave of absence.
UPDATED March 27 Q: If I am required self-isolate as a result of the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s protocols around COVID-19 will I be compensated?
A: Yes, you will be compensated if directed by the Employer to self-isolate. You will use the DK/VJ pay codes for a paid leave of absence. If you are self-isolating because you have chosen to travel internationally (after March 16, 2020) your self-isolation will be considered unpaid. In this case, you will use the LK/VK pay codes.
UPDATED March 27 Q: If I am sick due to signs/symptoms of COVID-19, will I be compensated?
A: Yes, you will be compensated if you are sick with the signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19. You will be compensated at a rate of 1.0 and the time will come out of your sick bank. The codes are IK/RB.
UPDATED March 27 Q: Will I be paid if I am called in to replace someone who is experiencing signs/symptoms of COVID-19, or who is positive for COVID-19?
A: Yes, you will be compensated if you are called in to replace someone who is experiencing the signs and/or symptoms of, or who has tested positive for, COVID-19. You will use the ZK/RA pay codes and will be paid at a rate of 1.0. If the time you work is considered overtime, you will use the OH/RH, OF/RF, or OG/RG pay codes and be paid at a rate of either 1.5 or 2.0. When banking this overtime, the codes are OK/RK, OP/RL, or OM/RM.
UPDATED March 27 Q: If I travel internationally after March 16, 2020, and have to self-isolate upon my return to Canada, how will I be compensated?
A: If you are self-isolating because you have chosen to travel internationally (after March 16, 2020) your self-isolation will be considered unpaid. In this case, you will use the LK/VK pay codes.
Personal Protective Equipment
UPDATED March 26 Q: What is the recommended personal protective equipment?
A: The recommended PPE for healthcare staff includes but is not limited to droplet, contact and additional airborne precautions such as gloves, gowns, face shields, respirators, goggles, powered air-purifying respirators (for aerosol-generating procedures like intubation).
The point of care assessment is the critical part of the decision-making in any patient care situation, and as registered nurses we use critical thinking, clinical judgment and available evidence based practice to guide to inform our care just like before we were confronted with COVID19. We work within universal or routine precautions in practice everyday, and when needed we adapt to the type of precautions that best serve protection of our patients and ourselves.
Keep current with the information that is being posted in your area to your best ability when you arrive at work due to changes that are happening, review any new or updated policy / work standard / directive, and when questions arise at the front-line that you are continuing to ask questions and seeking clarification.
Information for Healthcare Providers can be found on the Ministry of Health can be found here.
UPDATED March 17 Q: I’ve travelled recently – do I need to self-isolate or can I go to work?
These are the testing and self-isolation guidelines are outlined by the SHA on March 17, 2020.
Testing is recommended for individuals with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 AND symptom onset within 14 days of exposure:
- Travel outside Canada, including United States
- Travel within Canada to BC, AB, ON, QC
- Travel within Canada to any province and attended a mass gathering*
- Health Care Workers (HCW, including but not limited to SHA staff)
- Prioritize for same day testing, but not until >24 hours after symptom onset (to minimize false negatives)
- Contacts of cases, even if case was reported outside of Saskatchewan
- Hospitalized with respiratory illness, especially if no other cause
- Consider repeat testing if initial test negative
- Outbreaks in LTC facilities
- Self-isolate at home until 24 hours after symptoms resolve – MHO will determine whether repeat testing is required
- If symptoms worsen, seek care – call 811 or call ahead
- If HCW – require 2 negative tests, 24 hours apart, before return to work if providing direct patient care
- If case admitted to hospital or health care facility – require 2 negative tests, 24 hours apart, before lifting infection prevention and control (IPAC) precautions
- Continue self-monitoring until 14 days after last exposure (return to Saskatchewan OR contact with case)
- Practice social distancing – do not return to school/work until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.
- If symptoms worsen, self-isolate and seek care – call 811 or call ahead; repeat testing
- If HCW – repeat testing if test performed < 24 hours after symptom
Right to Refuse
Q: Can I refuse to work if I feel I asked to work in an unsafe situation?
If your supervisor/employer asks you to perform a specific job or task that you have grounds to believe is unusually dangerous/unsafe, follow these steps:
- Tell your employer/supervisor that you are refusing work because of a health or safety concern;
- Do not leave the worksite without your employer's permission and continue to perform the usual duties of your job that are not unusually dangerous/unsafe;
- Contact your occupational health committee (OHC) or OHS representative if you cannot resolve the concern with the employer/supervisor;
- Your OHC will investigate the refusal and vote to determine if you have reasonable grounds to refuse the work. (The vote must be unanimous for or against the refusal.);
- If the concern cannot be resolved within your workplace, contact an occupational health officer at the Occupational Health and Safety Division.
- The occupational health officer will investigate the refusal and rule on the matter.
Your place of employment may have its own procedures for refusing unusually dangerous work. Ask your supervisor, occupational health committee, occupational health and safety representative, and/or union steward for information.
Leaves of Absense/Scheduling
UPDATED March 25 Q: Can I be called back from vacation?
A: Yes, you can be called back from vacation. According to the Collective Agreement, an employee can be called back in Emergent Circumstances and must be paid at 2.0 time. Below are the guidelines the Employer will have to consider when calling an employee back from vacation:
- What is the nature of the work and which employee(s) is needed to perform such work?
- Have all efforts been exhausted internally to identify alternate staffing and it can be demonstrated this is a last resort (e.g. casual/relief, part-time, temporary staff and overtime have been considered prior to cancelling vacation or TIL)?
- Are there any employees who have volunteered to reschedule their vacation?
- Cancelling those employees whose duration of leave will be least impacted.
- Depending on the length of vacation time planned, in discussions with the employee is it possible to cancel only a portion of the time off? Would this be an appropriate option as opposed to cancelling the entire vacation period?
Q: Can an employee’s schedule be changed?
A: A: Yes, employee's schedules may be adjusted to meet the needs of the employer. However, Article 7.03(e) of the collective agreement applies and double time (2x) premium will be paid for changes during the posted and confirmed period. If changes made in emergency circumstances which could not have been foreseen by the Employer, the premium will only be paid for the first five changed shifts; however, overtime may apply.
Q: Can the employer mandate overtime?
A: Yes, pursuant to Article 8.01 of the collective agreement, the employer may mandate overtime consistent with the registered nurses’ normal responsibilities in their work area, in emergency circumstances.
Q: Can I reschedule my vacation?
A: You may request, and the employer may agree to reschedule your vacation.
Q: Can I be reassigned to other locations?
A: Yes, in emergency circumstances the employer may assign you to another location where core duties are similar to your usual duties, and Article 45 Float Orientation will apply.
Working While Pregnant
UPDATED March 20 Q: I am a pregnant healthcare worker. Can I continue to work even though there is a risk I may come into contact with a suspected COVID-19 patient?
A: Yes, the application of routine practices and additional precautions is based on a point-of-care risk assessment. Healthcare workers should use a risk assessment approach before and during each patient interaction to evaluate the likelihood of exposure. Pregnant healthcare personnel (HCP) should follow risk assessment and infection control guidelines for healthcare providers exposed to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outlined by the CDC.
UPDATED March 20 Q: I am a pregnant healthcare worker. Can I be present for aerosol-generating procedures such as intubation on suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients?
A: No, pregnant nurse should not be involved in patient care during aerosolizing procedures for patients that are suspected for confirmed COVID-19 due to the inability to reliably fit test for an N-95 mask.
UPDATED March 20 Q: What is the treatment approach for COVID-19 patients?
A: The treatment approach is to first initiate Droplet/Contact Plus Precautions. Next, place patient in a single room with hard walls and a door. If Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures (AGMP) are required, move patient to an airborne infection isolation room if possible, or follow facility protocol for AIIR placement. Ensure the room’s door is closed before beginning AGMP. Be sure to don N-95 respirator and eye protection/face shield, along with gown and gloves. You can view the algorithm for treatment approach here.
State of Emergency
UPDATED March 18 Q: How does a State of Emergency affect healthcare workers?
A: The government's declaration of a State of Emergency allows the SHA to be flexible and dynamic when delivering care to patients in Saskatchewan during the pandemic. Actions taken to meet the needs of our patients may include but are not limited to the redeployment of staff, implementation of surge capacity protocols, and/or temporary closures.
As a key stakeholder in our healthcare system, SUN Provincial continues to have open and transparent communication with the Employer regarding the rapidly evolving situation and the impact on our members' health, safety and ability to care for the people of this province. SUN is committed to protecting your rights and safety and keeping you informed as things develop.