UFCW Canada Local 1006A has created this Q & A to help members at Loblaw Great Food, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Valu-Mart and Your Independent Grocer. If you have further questions, please contact your union rep.
COVID-19: FAQ For Grocery Workers
What is the union doing to protect our health and safety at the stores?
Your health and safety is our highest priority. You deserve to be safe. Our union representatives are working hard to respond to concerns and issues you are facing. Since the beginning, your union has been in discussions with senior company officials and government leaders urging urgent action to protect the health and safety of grocery workers on the frontlines. Companies are listening.
Through the union’s continuous persistence and pressure in constant conversations, the company continues to update its health and safety measures. See our letter to Premier Ford here.
I am experiencing symptoms and concerned I have contracted COVID-19 – is my job protected?
Yes, if you are experiencing symptoms or have contracted COVID-19, your job is protected. If you are sick or experiencing any symptoms, all health authorities across Canada advise you to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days. Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and its ability to rapidly spread, these health authorities have issued specific advice and legislation to protect workers and the public.
Officials do not want you to go to work in if you are symptomatic and may potentially spread COVID-19. Under emergency legislation passed, there is job-protected leave for those in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19. Please call your manager and inform them as soon as you start experiencing symptoms.
You do not require a sick note for government benefits. However, if you are applying for the company’s Pay Protection Program, ensure you have a screenshot of your phone call to Telehealth or whatever documentation you can provide.
I am concerned customers are not observing the 2-metre distance guideline?
Social distancing is very important to help reduce the spread. We have spoken to the employer about the importance of setting limits on the number of customers in the store. The company has agreed, and are setting limits at all their stores and is installing plexiglass at the frontend of all locations. Tape markers will be around the store and front-end for social distancing, and hand wash stations will also installed at the front of the stores. If your management is not observing limits and your store is full of too many customers, who may be bumping into you or crowding into you, please contact your union rep.
I have noticed customers still bringing reusable bags – is this safe?
If customers bring reusable bags, you do not have to bag their groceries for them. They will have to bag their groceries themselves. At this time, reusable bags pose an unnecessary risk. The staying power of the virus on various surfaces means a greater risk to exposure and potential transmission.
For now, we recommend exclusively using single-use grocery bags which the customer can use for free.
I have noticed customers are coming into the store sick and I am concerned about my safety?
Your union is advocating for firm implementation of social distancing and encouraging all customers who are sick, to stay home and ask a friend, neighbour or family member to do their shopping for them. Please maintain a distance from them and if you are uncomfortable, please inform your supervisor.
What is the number one thing I can do to stay safe?
The health authorities are consistently asking us to wash our hands regularly and not touch our faces at all. Also practice good social distancing (2 metres (6 feet) away from everyone else) whenever you can.
What do I do if I notice a co-worker has symptoms and is not self-isolating or returned from traveling and is not self-isolating?
Please alert your manager right away and if the situation is not resolved, your union rep. All workers have a right to be healthy and safe in the workplace. It is for the benefit of all members in the store if anyone, who is sick, self-isolates.
Should you have any issues or concerns contact your union representative. We are here to help.
I have returned from abroad, should I return to work right away?
Currently, the Government of Canada is imposing a mandatory quarantine of 14 days on anyone returning from abroad, including the US. Please inform your manager as soon as you can and self-isolate for 14 days.
I want to protect my health and safety by wearing a mask – am I allowed?
We are advocating for masks for our members. After several discussions, the company had indicated they are willing to supply masks but they are in short-supply. They are working to get more protective masks for our members particularly for pharmacists and cashiers. If you want to bring your own mask in, you are allowed. It just has to be neutral in colour with no lettering. If you have concerns about this issue, please contact your union rep.
I want to wear gloves, have access to sanitizers and paper towel – will I be provided with these materials?
We continue to push the company to ensure you are protected with gloves, sanitizers and paper towels as requested and needed. Recently, the company announced measures to provide gloves and store-made sanitizers to our members. If you are not provided with these protections at your store, please contact your union rep.