As you know, presently, we are in an exceptional situation that has been declared a public health emergency. It is important that we support our fellow employees and ultimately Canadians.
We must remember that it is the employer’s right to assign duties. If directed to perform duties outside of your own job description, members must comply, providing the following conditions are met;
- Has overtime been offered to those members who regularly occupy those positions? For example, if you are requested to work in the kitchen, overtime must be first offered to all available and qualified kitchen staff prior to you being directed to take on that role;
- Are you confident that you are not considered a “critical employee”, and that safety can still be maintained if you are not working at your substantive position?
- Has sufficient training been provided to you in advance of taking on these new duties?
- Has all safety equipment and clothing been provided to you?
- Do you feel safe undertaking the role you’ve been requested to fill?
If the above conditions have been met, then we recommend that you follow the direction of your manager.
Any member who believes they are being ordered to do unsafe work, or work in an unsafe manner, can invoke their rights under Part II of the Canada Labour Code and submit a complaint. For further information on filing complaints, please visit the Health & Safety section of our USJE Member Toolkit.
One last question to consider if you are being asked to undertake a position other than your substantive is the following:
- Could the work you’re being asked to undertake be done by an offender? It is important that offenders have work to occupy themselves during this crisis. One example is wiping down surfaces in unrestricted areas or working in the kitchen.
For help or support on any of the issues above, please reach out to your USJE Regional Vice President.