Philosophy & Approach
McMaster University values its people and the important work they do in support of the University’s mission and strategic priorities. During this unprecedented time, it is important that thoughtful consideration be given to staffing requirements.
To discuss staffing arrangements or workplace plans, contact Employee and Labour Relations.
- The health, safety and well-being of the McMaster community is a top priority. In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the University must take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of faculty and staff.
- As a Top Employer in the Hamilton-Niagara Region, McMaster University values its people and the important work they do in support of the University’s mission and strategic priorities.
- The University is committed to inclusive excellence and long-term, collaborative relationships with its faculty, staff, and union partners.
- The University makes decisions affecting employment in a manner that is fiscally responsible and guided by evidence-based research, with a careful view toward fair and equitable decisions that are affordable and sustainable in the long term.
- McMaster recognizes that its faculty and staff may need additional flexibility, support, and understanding as the circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic and return to campus planning continue to evolve. Employee needs must be balanced with the needs of the University and handled in a reasonable and equitable way.
- For the 2021/22 academic year, we will continue to deliver on the academic and research mission of the University, while prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of all members of our community.
- In doing so, we will remain focused on supporting and enabling the success of our students, delivering a high-quality learning environment and overall student experience.
- Our goal is to welcome new and returning students back to campus as soon as this can be done safely and in accordance with Public Health guidance and government protocols. Priority will be given to those programs where physical access is necessary in order to complete academic requirements and enable students to complete their courses and graduate.
- We will maintain our focus on research excellence and on supporting the work of our researchers across all disciplines, as well as enabling and advancing our long history of creativity and innovation.
- We will continue to uphold our core University values, principles and policies, including our focus on inclusivity, accommodation and respect for one another, and our collegial decision-making processes. Any revisions or updating of policies will continue to be developed through the University’s pre-existing governance processes.
- We will continue to make fiscally prudent decisions that support our ongoing stability and success as an institution, balancing risk with opportunity.
- We will continue to work together as a community to support our students, faculty and staff across the University and will ensure that information, plans and decisions are communicated clearly and promptly.
Leader decision guide – Fall 2021 working arrangements
McMaster University values its people and the important work they do in support of the University’s mission and strategic priorities. During this unprecedented time, it is important that thoughtful consideration be given to staffing requirements and staffing supports.
The Leader Decision Guide has been prepared to support leaders in understanding the University approach to Fall 2021 planning, and considerations for any updated working arrangements that may be considered. Fall 2021 remains a transitional time and all decisions will continue to be addressed within a strong health and safety framework. COVID-19 has forever changed how we work – with a need for more flexibility, connectivity, and inclusion. Plans for Fall 2021 will need to continue to be agile in response to evolving public health direction.
Additional review and working sessions with leaders will be scheduled over the Summer to assist leaders with their Fall 2021 planning and identify supporting resources. In addition, your Human Resources Contact is available as a resource to you as you consider work arrangement plans.
Preparing and supporting employees to work onsite
For additional information, review the Back to Mac Employee Guide to September.
Coming to Campus Every Day – Daily Check In
All staff, faculty and students are required to complete a Daily Check In. Similar to the provincial self-assessment tool, McMaster will be introducing its own COVID-19 screening tool called MacCheck by September 7th. In this tool, you’ll be able to complete the two required tasks to access McMaster University campus or facility locations (including hospital settings): upload your vaccination record and complete daily COVID-19 health screening. MacCheck will be available via website URL and can be accessed on any device (smartphone, computer or tablet). A hard copy option will be available for those who do not have a smart phone.
All staff and faculty are required to complete the COVID-19 Awareness training prior to accessing campus. A new Back to McMaster COVID-19 training will replace this training in the coming weeks. Individuals who have already completed the previous training will not be required to complete the new training module.
Starting September 7th, all McMaster faculty, students and staff will be required to upload proof of vaccination to the MacCheck digital tool. This applies even if you won’t be on campus in the fall term. All community members must upload their proof by October 17th at 11:59pm ET.
Between September 7 and October 18, those attending university locations (or placements in hospitals and health facilities) who are not yet fully vaccinated, or who have not received an exemption from the university for a validated human rights ground, will be required to submit proof of a negative COVID test result twice a week. McMaster will have an onsite testing facility that will be open as of September 7.
Proof of vaccinations and testing will be submitted through the new McMaster app which is in its final stages of development.
Supervisors will be expected to verify all members of their team/department working onsite have clearance to come to campus. This process is still in development, and additional information will be sent as soon as it is available.
Exemptions from this policy will be made for grounds protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code which includes confirmed medical reasons. Human Resources Services and, Equity and Inclusion Office and Student Accessibility Services will assist with exemptions based on human rights grounds and any accommodation questions, concerns and requests. More information on processes for employees to submit requests for exemptions is available in Step 4B of the vaccination guide.
Individuals who interact with students or the public will have the ability to ask for confirmation of clearance to be on campus.
Masks and Physical Distancing
Masks are mandatory on campus for all indoor spaces, and in outdoor settings when 2 metre/6 feet distance cannot be maintained. Cloth masks are acceptable except within hospital buildings, where a medical mask is required.
McMaster expects that all community members will adhere to the health and safety measures put in place for the protection of the community. The University continues to take an educational approach toward informing all community members of health and safety requirements while on-site (physical distancing, masking, other standard operating procedures). University approved posters and wayfinding materials are available to support communication of expectations in your work environment.
In situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained with someone who is not wearing a mask or face covering, eye protection is also required.
Parking fees for all McMaster parking lots will be reinstated in September for faculty, staff and students. McMaster parking permit holders can choose a full-time or part-time parking pass or place their parking on hold by emailing email@example.com.
EOHSS has provided a Workplace COVID-19 Supervisor Checklist, which includes a Hierarchy of Hazard Control. Supervisors will assess their space using this checklist and advise if redesigning or modifying the work area may be required. Modifications could include moving furniture, using vacant office spaces, rotating employee schedules or installing barriers such as plexiglass. Plexiglass would be used only after all other considerations for spacing individuals have been reviewed, mainly in client or student facing areas like a service desk.
To request the movement of furniture, please contact Facilities Services at extension 24740 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To request plexiglass for a reception or student facing area, please submit a service request.
Within the Faculty of Health Sciences please contact FHS Corporate Services.
Please note that we are experiencing a high demand for work orders at the present time and will do our very best to meet the needs of the campus community as quickly as possible.
Buildings on campus will be open on Friday, August 27th from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Beginning Monday, August 30, buildings on campus will be open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Starting September 7th, the schedule for opening and closing of buildings will be adjusted to cover class times. If supervisors have any questions or require access to specific areas, please contact email@example.com to have access added to your Working@MAC photo id card authorized. Security Services can also assist in an emergency by calling ext.24281.
The majority of buildings on McMaster’s main campus are mechanically ventilated with MERV-13 filters installed. Five buildings on campus are not mechanically ventilated and McMaster plans to install standalone high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units. Review the list of campus buildings by ventilation type. Supervisors must email FSUtilitiesClerk@mcmaster.ca to inform them about plans to occupy the offices or meeting spaces in the buildings without mechanical ventilation to request installation. Please allow 10 days for installation.
Custodial Services have been thoroughly cleaning all areas on McMaster’s main campus. If something was missed, please contact our Customer Service staff at ext.24740 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is not necessary for Supervisors to inform Custodial Services about your individual team’s plans for the fall, however you can contact Carlos Figueira, Director of Custodial, Grounds, Logistics and Mail Services at ext. 28695 if you have any questions or concerns as individuals begin to return.
Departments in the Faculty of Health Sciences can contact FHS Corporate Services with questions.
Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
These are provided in public spaces. For departmental offices or meeting spaces, both hand sanitizer and wipes can be purchased from the Campus Store.
Back to Mac signage is available to help reinforce Health and Safety protocols. Signage can be ordered from Media Production Services.
Composting Office Plants
Sadly, some of us may return to office spaces to find plants that are no longer alive. Facility Services is offering a more sustainable disposal option, including composting the natural plant material and recycling the container if possible. Please bring any plants you no longer want to the green bin located in the receiving area beside Chester New Hall.
Where to Eat on Campus
Many hospitality services locations will be open. Details and hours of operation are posted on the Hospitality Services website.The university is still operating under the province of Ontario’s Step 3 restrictions, which means employees need to remain physically distanced while eating.
It is normal for some to be apprehensive about the fall return to campus.
There are workshops and sessions available to help supervisors work through this transition. Fall is expected to be a period of transition and leading your teams with empathy and kindness will help your team feel supported. Creating a psychologically safe workspace should also be considered. Many employees also have access to the Employee & Family Assistance Program and can be reminded of this confidential service available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Facilitating Flexible Scheduling Requests
Supervisors are asked to plan work arrangements based on operational needs but recognize that flexibility and finding new ways of working is going to be important to employees.
Be creative to prioritize service to students, teaching and research, while supporting your team through the transition. Very few positions at McMaster can be delivered in a fully remote format.
Contact your HR Strategic Partner or Employee and Labour Relations contact if you have questions or need support in planning flexible work arrangements for different staff groups.
Many new staff and faculty who have joined McMaster since March 2020 have never been on campus. Consider opportunities to introduce them to the campus environment and workspace.
Staff and faculty hired in the last 12-18 months may require an ID Badge. To Request a photo access card – Send their name and employee # to email@example.com to confirm employment. Once employment is confirmed they will need to provide a government sized photo through firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Report Positive Cases
If you or someone on your team test positive for COVID-19, McMaster students, faculty and staff are reminded to use the new self-reporting tool in Mosaic to report a confirmed COVID-19 test result.
This tool is confidential and helps the university track confirmed cases on campus and ensure appropriate cleaning and safety protocols are put into place promptly.
The Step-by-Step Guide for faculty and staff provides additional information.
Additional supervisor resources are available to support fall planning.
Reach out to your Human Resources partners for additional assistance.
The health, safety and well-being of the McMaster community is a top priority. In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, supervisors must take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of workers. Additionally, workers have an Occupational Health and Safety Act duty to report any known workplace hazard or violation of the Act to the employer or supervisor.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act also provides workers with:
- The right to know
- The right to participate, and;
- The right to refuse unsafe work
If you have employees or students that are approved to work/study onsite, refer to the Supervisor Requirements on the Workplace Health and Safety Guidance during COVID-19 webpage and complete the related Supervisor Workplace Checklist. Use the Workplace Guidelines to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for onsite activities. These tools and SOPs should be reviewed in detail with employees and students to provide assurance on health and safety measures in place, prior to any return to on campus working or activities. These actions will support the University’s commitment to the right to know and the right to participate.
Some employees may have additional questions about their safety in the workplace, as it relates to COVID-19, or the availability of additional, reasonable precautionary measures that may be necessary, based on the nature of the role. There are additional materials with respect to Health and Safety in the workplace available to employees and Supervisors.
Leaders are encouraged to engage with their employees and teams on any concerns identified and consider any further updates or amendments to health and safety practices in support of employee safety.
For additional support, contact Environmental & Occupational Health Support Services (email@example.com) and visit the resources for employees working onsite webpage. As there may be specific additional requirements for healthcare or hospital settings, in Faculty of Health Sciences, please contact the Faculty of Health Sciences Safety Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Should you be approached by an employee regarding a health and safety related work refusal, further to RMM 114 Work Refusal Program, please connect directly with EOHSS or the FHSSO team for further support.
Supporting employees who are working remotely
The following topics are covered in the guidance document for setting up and supporting remote work arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic which will help supervisors and employees while working remotely:
- Setting up a Remote Team (including information about purchasing office equipment and accessories)
- Key Considerations for Supervisors
- How to Set Up a Home Work Station
- Health and Safety Considerations
- Communicating as a Team
- Employee Health & Well-Being
- Caring for Dependents
For additional resources, please access resources for employees working remotely.
There are many areas that supervisors can focus on to have a strong employee engagement impact (e.g., recognition, feedback, listening). View the employee engagement webpage for tips and resources.
Ultimately, both the manager and the employee share responsibility in making and maintaining those critical, authentic connections that drive higher engagement.
If you manage virtual employees or teams:
- Schedule regular “temperature checks:” When you can’t count on bumping into the person in the hall or dropping by their office, you have to be deliberate and plan these communications.
- Monitor the virtual signals you’re sending—and receiving: Especially when there are no visual cues, tone, vocal style and pacing can speak volumes. You also have to be more aware of how your messages are landing. Did the nuances come through? Is the message resonating? Pause for a check-in to make sure.
- Encourage virtual employees to initiate reaching out to you and others: Suggest that they make an effort to connect with their colleagues for the sake of keeping in touch. This could be in the form of calling with birthday wishes or asking someone to be a sounding board for an idea. This is a great opportunity to help your employees build their confidence and presence by taking ownership of their engagement.
- Include virtual teams when planning team/department events and activities: While they may not be able to attend activities in the office, you can still find equivalent alternatives for your remote staff to participate in and feel a part of the culture.
COVID-19 Health Guidelines
For additional support, contact Employee Health Services.
When an individual completes the recommended Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment tool, they will be advised to self-isolate or isolate in various circumstances. Employees may also be directed by public health to self-isolate or quarantine directly, based on identified potential exposure for individuals. We’ve grouped these circumstances and provided guidance for each:
1. “At Risk” Group(e.g., over age 70, immune compromised, underlying health condition)
- This Group is not at risk to others, but is at a higher risk than others. While there is no public health requirement for individuals in this group to isolate, it is recognized individuals may wish to do so.
- Where requested, enable and support remote work if possible
- If attending work:
- Request a workplace accommodation (more info also on page below) to be able to attend work in the workplace and guidance will be given to the supervisor to work through the Hierarchy of Controls on an individualized basis to ensure a reasonable and appropriate accommodation, or
- If no specific accommodation needs have been identified, continue to ensure all health and safety protocols are in place and being followed. Ensure they follow public health recommendations to wear a face covering or mask, maintain physical distancing and practice hand hygiene regularly and as needed.
- Where remote work is not possible and the employee would prefer to isolate, they may request an Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Of course, before beginning a leave, an individual may also work with their supervisor to take vacation days, personal leave days, etc.
- Income Supports:
- Employees may consider applying to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) for income support during an unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. This federal benefit gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
2. “Potential Exposure” Group (e.g., return from international travel, close contact or potentially in contact with a positive COVID-19 case)
- Public Health requires mandatory isolation periods and testing, depending on circumstances
- This Group is a potential risk to others
- Enable and support remote work if possible
- If remote work is not possible, the individual will be placed on an Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Of course, before beginning a leave, an individual may also work with their supervisor to take vacation days, personal leave days, etc.
- Income Supports:
- Follow the instructions provided in the Step by Step Guide to Addressing COVID-19 Exposure (PDF Document).
3.“Unwell” Group (COVID-19 positive, or symptomatic and awaiting testing)
- The Ministry of Health provides specific guidance on isolation requirements and timelines for return to work, in these circumstances.
- This Group is a risk (or a potential risk) to others
- Enable and support remote work if possible and the employee is well enough
- If remote work is not possible, there are two pathways for the individual:
- use sick time provisions (sick bank/salary continuance), or
- if they do not have paid sick time provisions, have otherwise exhausted them, or choose not to use them, request an Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Of course, before beginning a leave, an individual may also work with their supervisor to take vacation days, personal leave days, etc.
- Income Supports:
- Some employee groups who have unpaid sick time or unpaid waiting periods for use of sick banks may be eligible for up to 3 paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Days – see available information.
- Employees may also consider applying to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) for income support during an unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. This federal benefit gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
- For employees that have tested positive for COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are awaiting test results, follow the instructions provided in the Step by Step Guide to Addressing COVID-19 Exposure (PDF Document).
4.Personal Election to Self-Isolate (in close contact with someone who is At Risk etc.)
- Enable and support remote work if possible
- If remote work is not possible, the individual may request an Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Of course, before beginning a leave, an individual may also work with their supervisor to take vacation days, personal leave days, etc. NOTE: as the individual is not sick themselves, they would not be able to use sick leave benefits.
- Income Supports:
Beyond workplace flexibility, which continues to be encouraged and supported by the University, employees may request accommodation – for example: due to disability or family status, if they have a heightened concern about working with others due to their underlying health status, or if they have a requirement to attend to a dependant family member.
Leaders are encouraged to first have an open and supportive discussion with the employee to understand what temporary accommodations may be needed during this time, and to consider what is operationally feasible to meet these needs.
Consider the following documents:
- University’s Workplace Accommodation Policy
- Workplace Accommodations Procedure
- Workplace Accommodation Form
Contact your Employee Health Services Specialist for support with accommodations that are required beyond 6 months, are complex in nature, or if remote work is not available and accommodation in the physical work environment has been requested.
Depending on the circumstances, the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave may also be an appropriate option available to employees.