Announcements: QUFA President Message #1, March 9, 2020

In light of the rapidly evolving and highly concerning situation with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, we wish to observe that the University has a legal obligation to ensure all its employees a safe workplace. This includes ensuring the cleaning of all potentially contaminated spaces and surfaces and the provision of soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer, as well as the provision of sufficient distance (generally 2-6 feet) from individuals who may be infected with COVID 19.

QUFA will assist the University in implementing necessary measures, should it find that it cannot provide a safe on-campus working environment for our Members.  We recommend that our Members give consideration to how they could conclude this term’s teaching remotely.

We also remind our Members that until and unless the University determines that on-campus classes and other activities are suspended, they are obliged to fulfill their academic responsibilities in the prescribed manner.  All Members should be aware that the right to refuse work acknowledged by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, requires that you stay at work until the situation has been investigated and thus does not permit Members to unilaterally decide to work remotely.  The provisions are here:

https://www.ontario.ca/document/guide-occupational-health-and-safety-act/part-v-right-refuse-or-stop-work-where-health-and-safety-danger#section-1

Members who are ill, should consult Article 33.2.3 of the Collective Agreement. Members with underlying chronic conditions may need to be accommodated and we recommend that if you have such a condition you consult the Head of your department or Dean in an undepartmentalized faculty.

Elizabeth Hanson
Professor
Department of English
Queen’s University
hansone@queensu.ca