Travelling During a Pandemic (Information as of 2021-11-01)
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.
Certain 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. While travel has opened up, there are restrictions and requirements surrounding travel that are in place and continue to change. Be sure to be aware of all travel advisories and requirements, which can be found at https://travel.gc.ca.
Here are some questions you should consider:
Some of these requirements may affect your ability to return to work after the holiday and may create 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. Employers are not entitled to an employee’s medical diagnosis.
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 through applicable leaves that are accessible in your collective agreement, (some may be without pay). Travel is a personal choice and is unpredictable at this time. Once again, we do advise that teachers call in about their individual situations to receive advice.
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. (At this point, international travel has re-opened, but we advise you to continue to monitor that status.) We advise you to contact your benefits provider, before travelling, to familiarize yourself with the specific details of your plan and 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 (SARO) at (403) 265-2672 (or Barnett House) 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
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