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Leaves & Timekeeping

Information about overtime, vacation, leaves and the PHSA Early Absence Reporting Line (PEARL) process during the  COVID-19 pandemic.

Page updated: March 25, 2020 1:15 pm

We appreciate that many of our team members are working significant amounts of sustained overtime in an effort to manage the response to COVID-19.

For unionized staff, the collective agreement terms and conditions continue to apply.

The information below applies to non-contract employees and managers currently working on COVID-19 and is not applicable to physicians, residents, fellows, and scientists as well as senior leadership and executive leadership teams. 

Non-contract employees

During the COVID-19 extraordinary event, non-contract staff will be able to accrue overtime without it impacting the ability to also earn compensatory time off (CTO). 

COVID-19 overtime hours eligible for compensation: 

  • must be approved in advance
  • are worked in excess of forty-five (45) hours per week to a maximum of sixty (60) hours per week

Process for non-contract employees

  • You must track and input your overtime hours into the Workforce Management System (Workbrain). 
  • The hours will be available for use as time off for a period of six months; they will be paid out if not used

Non-contact managers

Non-contract managers are not normally eligible for overtime; however, due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, they may be eligible for extraordinary hours.

Non-contract managers includes non-contract employees who meet these criteria:
  • typically in jobs of salary ranges 8 and above
  • whose primary responsibilities consist of supervising or directing, or both supervising and directing, human or other resources
  • in a leadership capacity
Extraordinary hours eligible for compensation:
  • must be approved in advance and worked in excess of forty-five (45) hours per week to a maximum of sixty (60) hours per week
  • Must be tracked and approved in the extraordinary hours template on a weekly basis at a minimum of thirty minute increments
  • Will be banked and used as paid time off at a later date approved by the employee’s leader or (if unused within a six month period) will be paid out at straight time
This direction is reviewed by the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) on a regular basis and may change.

Process for non-contract managers

  1. You must send the completed tracker (Excel) for all those considered to be non-contract managers who report to you to by end of day Tuesday each week for the week prior. Please note that incomplete templates may delay processing timelines.
    • NOTE: Extraordinary hours earned between March 11 and March 23 should be submitted by end of day March 31.
  2. Upon receipt, the tracker will be reviewed and submitted to the VP, People Services for approval. Approved overtime requests will be loaded into overtime balances in the Workforce Management System (Workbrain).
  3. Banked overtime hours will be available for use as paid time off for a period of six months; they will be paid out at straight time if not used.
Time compensated under this guideline shall not be considered for the purpose of eligibility for CTO. This process is an update to the March 10 Leaders' Bulletin: COVID-19 guidance for leaders (must be on health authority network to see) .
Vacation & Leaves

Employees who are sick should not be at work, and should recuperate at home.

Vacation and other leaves

During the COVID-19 situation, rules around unused vacation or cancelling vacation have been changed.  

Unused 2019 vacation for non-contract staff

Given the emerging needs related to our response to COVID-19, we recognize that many employees will be unable to take vacation time before March 31, therefore: 

  • non-contract employees with unused 2019 vacation time will be allowed to carry-over up to75 hours to use before December 31, 2020. 
  • Employees with more than 75 hours will have those hours over 75 removed from their balances after March 31, 2020, unless an exception is submitted and approved by the VP, People Services.
  • Employees who returned from an extended leave of absence in 2020 will have until December 31 2020 to use their vacation hours.
  • Any unused 2019 vacation hours as of December 31, 2020 will be removed from balances and no vacation will be paid out.
Physicians at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre as well as physicians, researchers and scientists at BC Cancer will continue to follow the language in their terms and conditions. 

If you have any questions regarding your vacation balance, please contact Workforce Central.

Cancelling vacation or other leaves

Effective Friday, March 13, 2020, all employees are allowed to cancel pre-approved leaves scheduled in the next 60 days, including vacation, union leaves, banked overtime leaves, etc. 

Cancellations will be at the discretion of the employee. Any plans to cancel should be discussed with the manager or supervisor in charge and also must be updated in Infor (Workbrain).

If you plan to cancel your leave: 

Prior to cancelling a leave, please notify your manager. To cancel a leave:
  1. If you have a scheduler, notify the scheduler to cancel the leave.
  2. If you are a self-serve employee, cancel the leave directly on the leave request form in Infor (Workbrain) by selecting the cancel box next to the pre-approved dates and submitting the form. This cancellation request will go to the manager for approval prior to the timesheet and balances being update. 
Self-serve employees can find additional resources on POD and any questions about how to use the leave request form can be directed to Workforce Central.

The PHSA Early Absence Reporting Line (PEARL) will soon include a COVID-19 option.

Employees will hear all the existing PEARL options (Injury at Work, PEARL Illness, Pre-Planned, Other Unplanned Absence) as well as the new COVID-19 option.

Employee COVID-19 options

Once an employee selects COVID-19, they will be prompted to select one of these options:
  1. If you have returned from travel outside of Canada and have been directed by Public Health to self-isolate, press 1. 
    • Please note that if you are an essential health care worker and are not symptomatic, you should report to work as scheduled and follow the additional precautions outlined by the Provincial Health Officer.
  2. If you have been in close contact to a positive COVID-19 case, you have not developed symptoms but were advised to self-isolate, press 2.
For each of the above COVID-19 options (1 and 2) the employee will be prompted to enter the number of days they will be self-isolating. (See information below about coding self-isolation.)

NOTE: Employees who are unable to attend work due to illness, including respiratory-related symptoms, will be prompted to select “PEARL Illness” and should be coded as paid sick leave.

In order to avoid unnecessary utilization of health system resources, PHSA will not require a doctor’s note at this time.

Coding and self-isolation

If an employee is instructed by a medical health officer to self-isolate at home, the period of self-isolation should be coded as general paid leave for the duration of the recommended isolation period. 

For casual employees who are directed to self-isolate, they should be placed on a general leave of absence and compensated for any accepted shifts that were cancelled by reason of the general leave.

PEARL & manager notifciations

As a manager, you will receive a PEARL email notification notifying you of your employee’s absence. This is just for your information. 

It does not mean that your employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
If there is any further follow up required from you for employees who are off due to COVID-19 related symptoms, you will be notified. In the absence of this notification, there is no follow up required from you.

When an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the Provincial Workplace Health or the PHSA Workplace Health team is notified and full contact-tracing is conducted. Managers are involved in the contact-tracing process. 

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