With borders reopening and the holiday season fast approaching, information to assist teachers with decision making related to travel is important. An employer cannot direct what teachers do on their personal time. A decision to travel may have consequences, but that decision remains with the teacher. As always, the Association advises teachers to call for assistance with personal situations, as every situation may be slightly different.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines and restrictions remain in effect and can be found at www.albertahealthservices.ca. As well, travel advisories greatly affect travel plans, and it is the traveller’s responsibility to check on these. Remember that not only are there international travel restrictions, but there are also provincial restrictions. These restrictions continue to change. Be sure to check on all travel advisories at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.
Here are some questions you should consider:
· What is the destination country’s vaccine requirement?
· What documentation do you need upon arrival or departure?
· What is required if you start to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms?
· What is your plan if self-isolation is required, either upon arriving at your destination or upon returning to Canada?
Some of these requirements may affect your ability to return to work after the holiday and may exacerbate potential issues with your employer.
If you are sick, for whatever reason, you are entitled to sick leave provisions in your collective agreement. If you are required to quarantine because you are exhibiting symptoms and are sick, you are entitled to sick leave as per your collective agreement. (Some teachers have 90 days and some have statutory sick leave of 20 days per year.) Sick leave entitlement is not affected by travel in any way.
Problems with a return to work as the result of other issues (such as a delayed flight) are managed with collective agreement days off, such as personal days or days off without pay. If you are not sick but are required to quarantine, you must take that time without pay, as travel is a personal choice and is unpredictable at this time, or use applicable leaves in your collective agreement (such as personal days) for the quarantine period.
As for benefits and travel, some aspects of your medical coverage may not be in effect if you travel internationally when advised not to do so. Check with your medical benefits insurer for the specific details of your plan. If you have Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP) coverage, contact ASEBP before you travel and review the details at www.asebp.ca/my-benefits. If you are a teacher with coverage other than ASEBP, contact your benefits provider before travelling to ensure that, in the current conditions, you are covered for all aspects of the trip (from quarantine costs, such as hotel rooms, to costs related to having to change flights).
Further information or assistance is available by calling Teacher Employment Services at 1‑800‑232‑7208.
With the holidays approaching, teachers may be considering travel. Teachers should check current travel advisories and consider all potential consequences of travelling during a pandemic. #WEAREATA