Top GNWT Menu

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

Updated on September 14, 2020

In this section

  1. Leave
  2. Travelling oustide the NWT
  3. Returning to the workplace
  4. Working from home
  5. Redeployment

Leave

  1. Will annual leave be restricted or cancelled during the pandemic?

No. There are no plans to cancel or restrict annual leave, however, supervisors will continue to consider coverage requirements when they get requests for annual leave. You may be called back to work if there is an operational requirement, but every effort will be made to avoid this.

  1. I have already used up all of my annual/sick/special leave credits for this year and have already been advanced the maximum amount. Can I be advanced leave?

The GNWT will advance sick and special leave during this time, regardless of the balance of your leave bank.

  1. What kind of leave do I need to use for self-isolation?

The type of leave used for self-isolation depends on the situation:

  • If you are required to self-isolate because you are experiencing cold- or flu-like symptoms, use sick leave.
  • If you must care for an immediate family member who is ill or a dependent who is isolating, use special leave.
  • If you, or your dependant requiring care, are self-isolating because you or the dependant requiring care, travelled outside the NWT or Nunavut for non-essential travel, use annual leave, lieu, or leave without pay.
  • If you are required to self-isolate due to essential travel (medical travel, for example), use Working from special leave – self-isolation.

Employees must request leave for their vacation and any required self-isolation before they travel if they cannot work remotely. Employees should speak with their supervisor before they travel to determine whether they will be able to work remotely during self-isolation.

  1. If I am self-isolating, what code should I use to enter my sick or special leave in PeopleSoft?

SICK LEAVE: COVID-19

SPECIAL LEAVE: SELF-ISOLATION

  1. I am a relief employee who must self-isolate for 14 days. Will I have access to paid leave?

Yes.  Relief employees who must self-isolate or who become ill with Covid-19 will have access to paid leave. 

Travelling outside the NWT

For more information, please refer to COVID-19 Leave Requirements for Travel Outside the NWT and Nunavut

  1. Am I allowed to leave the Northwest Territories?

Yes. Residents are not prohibited from travelling outside the territory.

  1. If I leave the NWT, will I need to self-isolate when I return?

The GNWT and Government of Nunavut have established a travel bubble between the two territories. If you travel to Nunavut, you will not be required to self-isolate upon returning to the NWT (unless you were potentially exposed to COVID-19).

In all other cases, NWT residents—including GNWT employees—who travel outside of the NWT and Nunavut are required to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the NWT. For more information on self-isolation requirement when returning to the NWT please see the GNWT COVID-19 website.

Returning to the workplace

  1. When will GNWT employees return to the office?

Most public servants have returned to the worksite.

Departmental senior management teams have finalized plans to bring employees safely back to the worksite. Because every worksite is physically different and staffed at different levels, it is necessary to consider and plan for each worksite separately. Before these plans are implemented, they must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Finance to ensure that they are in compliance with both the orders of the Chief Public Health Officer, and territorial occupational health and safety rules.

If you have not yet returned to working onsite, your supervisor will reach out to you to talk about your worksite specific plan when it is time for you to return. They will provide you with the details of the plan for your worksite, and what safety precautions have been put in place to ensure your safety in the worksite.

  1. What can I do if I’ve been asked to return to the office but I have child care issues?

We recognize that the personal situations and circumstances of individual employees must be taken into account.  There will be employees who have children at home who require care.  These employees will be permitted to continue to work from home.  Remote work arrangements from home will be reassessed should your individual circumstances change, or once individual school and after-care plans are released.  Contact your supervisor to discuss your personal situation.

  1. I am still concerned about contracting COVID-19. Do I need to return to the office?

We recognize that the personal situations and circumstances of individual employees must be taken into account.  There will be employees who cannot return to the worksite as a result of health issues that put them at increased risk. These employees will be permitted to continue to work from home.  If you are an employee dealing with one of these issues, please contact your supervisor to discuss your personal situation.

  1. I prefer to work from home. Can I continue to do so?

In March the majority of Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) employees were directed to work from home until further notice. Since that time, our response to the evolving pandemic has also evolved.  In May the Chief Public Health Officer released “Emerging Wisely” and a decision was made to begin returning employees back to the worksite.

Although we appreciate some employees may prefer to work from home, the goal of the GNWT is to return as many employees as possible to their worksites while ensuring all required safety measures are implemented. 

  1. What measures will be in place to protect employees when we return to the office?

In accordance with the GNWT’s approach to returning employees to the worksite, a slow and prudent approach is being undertaken where employee and client safety is the priority.  Exposure Control plans have been developed for each worksite and will include hazard mitigation measures and controls, Risk Assessments and guidelines for staff on Physical distancing, Handwashing/sanitizing etiquette, cleaning, use of common areas, shared spaces, equipment and requirements for personal protective equipment.  

  1. Someone in my home is sick or self-isolating. Do I still need to return to the office?

No. You are not required to return to the office if you must stay at home to care for an immediate family.  Contact your immediate supervisor to discuss leave.

  1. Will I need to return to work if someone in my home is classified as high risk or is immune-compromised?

An employee can opt to continue working from home if their position allows for it and operationally, it is feasible.  Contact your supervisor to discuss.

  1. I am really stressed and anxious about returning to work and my kids returning to school given there is no vaccine for COVID.  Where can I find help?

To assist staff with managing the stress and anxiety surrounding COVID-19, the AbilitiCBT program is available for support 24/7.  The program details and registration can be found at https://gnwt.abiliticbt.com/home.

In addition to the AbilitiCBT, there are a suite of resources and supports available through the Emotional and Mental Health resource page for GNWT employees and their families and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to access as well.

  1. Will employees need to be tested before returning to work?

No. Employees will not require negative COVID test results before returning to their place of work. 

  1. Will there be ongoing testing (e.g. will I need to have my temperature taken when I come to work each day?)?

Given the varying nature of work and worksites across the GNWT, each department is responsible for developing their respective Exposure Control Plans.  It is possible that due to their risk assessment, a department may implement daily temperature checks for all employees and the public who enter the worksite.

  1. Can my supervisor direct me to go home if they observe COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes. You can be sent home by your supervisor if you have cold and/or flu symptoms. Managers and supervisors must ensure a safe work environment for all employees and will direct employees who are ill to go home and take sick leave.

  1. Can I refuse to stay at work if I feel like another employee has COVID-19 symptoms?

Any employee displaying symptoms will be sent home. If you have any concerns about a co-worker who is displaying COVID-19 symptoms, please speak with your supervisor.

  1. I am currently on a redeployment assignment. Am I expected to return to my home division now that employees are returning to the office?

If your assistance is still required you will remain redeployed until such time you choose to return to your home position or your department requires you to return.

Working from home

For more information, please see Working from Home

  1. I needed to set up an internet account to work from home. Can I be reimbursed?

Yes. If you were asked to work from home and you do not have basic internet there, the GNWT will reimburse you for the costs for setting up a basic internet package, as well as deactivation costs when you return to working at a GNWT worksite.

Please make sure to discuss any technological limitations you may have in working from home with your supervisor.

  1. I am using my personal phone to connect to conference calls, and I often have to use the 416 number as the 1‐800 number will not connect.  Will I be reimbursed for long-distance charges?

Yes. If were asked to work from home and part of your work requires you to participate in conference calls using your personal phone, then the GNWT will reimburse you for long-distance charges incurred.  You should have a conversation with your manager/supervisor to ensure that they know of and approve that you may be incurring long distance charges.

  1. If I incur overage costs on my personal internet account as a result of working from home, will the GNWT reimburse me?

As of July 1, upon employee request, departments shall reimburse an employee working full-time from home for up to $60/month to cover additional internet costs incurred while working from home.  Employees who are working from home as a result of a need to isolate after southern travel will only be reimbursed if the southern travel was for essential travel (i.e. medical travel).  Employees who travelled for non-essential reasons and must work from home while isolating are not eligible to be reimbursed for internet overages.

The cost to reimburse employees will come from departmental budgets and departments are responsible for managing requests.

Employees should use the expense module in SAM to submit a claim for reimbursement, and as a part of that process must provide evidence of increased costs (internet overage bills) in order to qualify to be reimbursed.

Redeployment

For more information, please see Reassignment of GNWT Staff

  1. I am interested in being redeployed to help with COVID-19 efforts. How can I apply?

If you are interested in helping with COVID-19 efforts, the first step is to speak with your supervisor to confirm:

  • that your home position is non-essential; and
  • you are available to be re-assigned.

If your supervisor approves, you can use the Online Reassignment Form to apply. A representative from the Department of Finance will confirm your status and eligibility with your supervisor and reach out to you to arrange the details for redeployment.

  1. Is the GNWT still accepting expressions of interest for redeployment?

Yes. As the GNWT continues to support the COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories, there are still several areas requiring additional support.   

  1. What kinds of redeployment opportunities are available?

A list of Redeployment Opportunities is available for you to review on MyHR.

  1. What kinds of skills or experience are required for redeployment?

The requests for assistance are varied; skills and experience of all sorts will be required, ranging from experience in the enforcement, inspections and compliance to experience in a health or child-care setting. Please note any experience or skills you believe would be useful when completing the Online Reassignment Form.

  1. Will I be required to work extra hours/outside of regular working hours for a redeployment assignment?

Maybe. There are a variety of redeployment needs. Depending on the nature of the role, employees may be required to work outside normal working hours. Remember that you are free to decline any offer for redeployment based on your availability or comfort with the opportunity.

  1. Are redeployment assignments permanent? If not, how long do they last?

No. Redeployments are temporary arrangements designed to provide additional support, where needed, to the GNWT’s COVID-19 response. Redeployments may vary in length depending on the role or situation. If you are contacted by the Department of Finance about a redeployment opportunity, you can discuss the length of the assignment.

  1. If I choose not to take the first offered position will I be offered something else again?

Yes. If you are offered a position that is not a good fit, you can ask to keep your name on the list to be kept on the list in case another suitable match for your skills and experience is found. Remember that you are free to decline any offer for redeployment based on your availability or comfort with the opportunity.

  1. Are the positions that need to be filled new or existing positions?

Every situation is different. In some cases, employees are needed to support the delivery of essential services by departments; these types of redeployments would be into roles that are already described in job descriptions.

In other cases, people may be needed to fill new positions that are needed to support the response to COVID‐19.

  1. Can redeployment assignments be done from home?

It depends on the requirements of the redeployment opportunity. Some opportunities may be able to be done from home, while others will require you to be present in an office or able to work in the field. Remember that you are free to decline any offer for redeployment based on your availability or comfort with the opportunity.

  1. Are redeployment assignments safe?

The GNWT is working closely with both the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) and the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission to understand the requirements for PPE for GNWT employees in all positions. If PPE has been identified as required, then it will be provided. Social distancing, healthy respiratory practices, and handwashing protocols are in place in those worksites where employees are being asked to report.

  1. Can I quit a redeployment assignment I don’t like it?

Yes. All redeployment assignments are voluntary and you can request to return to your home position at any time. However, given the nature of redeployment assignments (to support essential services and the COVID-19 response), you will be asked to give appropriate notice to allow time for other arrangements to fill the role.

  1. I am currently on a transfer assignment. Can I be redeployed?

Yes. If you agree to be redeployed, you will return to the position you were in (the transfer assignment) before being redeployed once the redeployment assignment is complete.

  1. I am currently on a casual/term contract. Can I be redeployed?

Yes. All employees can volunteer for redeployment.