As B.C. reopens, employers have a responsibility to ensure a healthy, safe workplace as conditions change.
Latest Update - June 30th, 2021: BC's Restart is moving to Step 3 on July 1st, 2021. This means that businesses should begin transitioning from COVID-19 Safety Plans to communicable disease prevention.
On this page:
- Assess Which Employees Can Be at Work
- COVID-19 Safety Plans and Communicable Disease Prevention
- Managing Exposure to COVID-19
- What Workers Should Do
- Information Employers Can Request From Workers
- Useful Safety Planning Resources From WorkSafeBC
Assess Which Employees Can Be at Work
Consider remote working where possible. Ensure workers who have COVID-19 symptoms or those required by public health to isolate do not to come to the workplace.
WorkSafeBC – Best Practices for Operating Your Business During COVID-19
Resources and advice to minimize the risks of exposure.
COVID-19 Related Leave
Resources and support programs to help businesses avoid layoffs, and to provide support to employees unable to work due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 Safety Plans and Communicable Disease Prevention
A COVID-19 Safety Plan for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace had previously been a requirement for businesses to operate in B.C. A June 17, 2021 statement from the provincial health officer recommends that businesses continue to maintain some of these existing Safety Plan protocols as the province transitions to communicable disease prevention. Plexiglas barriers in the workplace and directional signage to reduce points of congestion are examples.
- Statement from the provincial health officer on transitioning from a COVID-19 Safety Plan to communicable disease prevention - June 17, 2021
- WorkSafeBC: Communicable disease prevention
- WorkSafeBC: Communicable disease guide for employers
Inform customers of your safety protocols using a poster with a QR code. Visit the BC Government COVID-19 Local Business Poster generator to create your own poster.
Managing Exposure to COVID-19
Read WorkSafeBC guidelines on controlling exposure.
Anyone with symptoms can get tested for COVID-19. Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see if you might need to get tested. If you or an employee are diagnosed with COVID-19, public health will get in touch and give you instructions on how to self-isolate.
People who test positive must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when symptoms started. Public health will also begin contact tracing to find out who else might have been exposed to COVID-19.
If a customer tests positive for COVID-19, public health may use contact tracing to get in touch with you if they visited your business.
If you or an employee have been at an event or in a location affected with a public exposure event, B.C. Centre for Disease Control recommends you self-monitor for symptoms. If symptoms develop:
- Use the B.C. COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need testing for COVID-19
- Understand testing and isolation guidelines and processes
What do I do if a worker tests positive for COVID-19?
Refer to the WorkSafeBC COVID-19 FAQs page. Under “Illness in the workplace,”the guidelines include:
Employers should ensure that the following workers do not come to work:
- Anyone who has had symptoms of COVID-19
- Anyone who has travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days
- Anyone who has been identified by Public Health as a close contact of someone with COVID-19
- Anyone who has been told to isolate by Public Health
If workers report having COVID-19-like symptoms while at work:
- Send them home to recover for the prescribed self-isolation period.
- Clean and disinfect their work station and or the workplace/tools that they were using as part of their job.
- Follow any directions from public health.
Information for grocery stores, restaurants and other food premises for employers and workers
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has created guidelines for food-based businesses. Visit their Food Businesses page and scroll down to the section on "Managing Ill Employees."
Regional exposure events
Public Health directly reaches the close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases to provide further instruction. In cases where not everyone can be reached, Regional Health Authorities are posting public exposure information online:
Public Health asks anyone who may have visited the listed locations on the specified dates and times to monitor themselves for symptoms. If you remain healthy and do not develop symptoms, there is no need to self-isolate; you can continue with your usual daily activities, including going to work.
If you develop any symptoms related to COVID-19, please call your family doctor or 8-1-1, seek testing, and self-isolate.
- In the case of a workplace safety emergency call WorkSafeBC at 1.888.621.SAFE (7233)
- For non-medical-related questions about COVID-19 including community protection and reporting options, call the BC Centre for Disease Control a 1-888-268-4319
- Call 8-1-1 or your primary care provider for personal medical advice following exposure or if you or an employee are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
- For general health-related questions, call the Government of Canada COVID-19 Information Service at 1-833-784-4397
What Workers Should Do
Employees in B.C. have the right to a healthy and safe workplace. In particular, you have three key rights:
- The right to know about hazards in the workplace
- The right to participate in health and safety activities in the workplace
- The right to refuse unsafe work
The first step is to inform your employer. Follow the WorkSafe BC guidelines to refusing unsafe work. If you are still concerned about the safety of your workplace, you can call the WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line at 1-888-621-7233. The line accepts anonymous calls.
What to do if you have been exposed to COVID-19
Provincial Health Service Authority information on what to do if you have a possible or confirmed COVID-19 exposure.
WorkSafeBC - What workers should do
Information and resources from WorkSafeBC to help employees understand how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19: What workers should expect when returning to work
WorkSafeBC information for workers on what to expect at their workplace as businesses return to operations after closing or reducing operations due to COVID-19.
Information Employers Can Request From Workers
Under the Canada Labour Code employers can lawfully request the following information relating to COVID-19 from workers to help ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace:
- If an employee is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 in the workplace, in case they need to self-isolate.
- If an employee is undergoing COVID-19 testing, what the result is, and if they were at work while potentially infected.
- If an employee was in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, which would require them to sell-isolate.
- If an employee has travelled internationally in the last 14 days.
Employer can also follow up with workers who are off work due to COVID-19 to make sure they return to work only when it is safe to do so.
Learn more about employer and employee rights and responsibilities.
Useful Safety Planning Resources From WorkSafeBC
- COVID-19 FAQs
- Returning to safe operation FAQs
- Health and safety responsibilities when working from home
- COVID-19 safety in vehicles, including carpooling
- COVID-19 health and safety: Cleaning and disinfecting
- Increased use of disinfectants, cleaners, and sanitizers during COVID-19
- Selecting and using face shields in non–health care settings
- Mandatory masks in public places
- COVID-19 vaccination and the workplace