HR Uses Back-to-Work Waivers to Protect Canadians
The pressure on Human Resource agents to keep Canadians safe as businesses reopen is daunting. How HR teams create and communicate back-to-work guidelines will shape employee attitudes and ultimately the resiliency of their workforce. Self-assessment waivers are a potent tool for those responsible for protecting Canada’s wage earners as they head back to their places of work.
In every province, there are rules about workplace safety that HR must comply with. Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to do two things:
- provide employees with information, training and supervision
- do everything within reason to ensure a safe workplace
This is especially important as employees return to offices while the threat of COVID-19 is still very real. An administrative level of protection, as described in BC's Covid Safety Plan, differs from physical levels of protection. Administrative protection defines rules and guidelines for employee behaviour as set out by Human Resources, within provincial recommendations. They prescribe the physical protections to prevent transmission, from social distance to signage.
But even before a person steps back into the office, Human Resource teams in charge of employee health can mitigate risk with information – thanks to waivers.
What is a waiver?
A waiver is a questionnaire that determines whether a person has knowingly come into contact with or themself currently has symptoms of the virus. It asks of pre-existing conditions that may identify individuals as compromised, and covers travel and other potential exposure. Before ever entering the premises, the back-to-work waiver adds another layer of protection for anyone planning to spend time at their place of work.
A self-assessment waiver should not be confused with a legal waiver. It is simply used to gather important health information to safely return to the workplace, not a tool to limit company liability if an employee contracts the virus while at work.
WHO says waivers are good policy
The World Health Organization (WHO) publication, Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19, covers preparedness and prevention with a key recommendation to contact and screen everyone in advance of in-person meetings. Pre-screening determines if a person carries any risk factors or is feeling unwell. If so, they should stay home.
Canada Public Health agrees. Make it administrative protective policy to screen employees before reentering the business setting. And when booking appointments, clients must also self-screen and sign the informational waiver, then await approval prior to coming in.
A Post-Pandemic Business Playbook is available from Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (Ontario). In it, screening protocols are part of return-to-work guidelines. They suggest advance screening, even on a daily or shift basis depending on the environment, to reduce the likelihood of spreading infection at work. Across the country, active screening is encouraged in virtually all back-to-work guides, as in Alberta and New Brunswick.
Digitized waivers simplify the process
In preparing to reopen, HR will have its hands full screening all employees who plan to physically return to their places of work – even if only periodically. A bulk send is the easiest way to accomplish this. Bulk Send makes quick work of sending out a high volume of documents ready to be completed and signed remotely. Simply import a list of employees and each receives a unique, personalized copy of the waiver to sign – eliminating the need to create and send separate envelopes or emails.
Templates let you standardize your screening waivers. Reusable templates automate end-to-end data gathering with common fields and a clear click-to-sign signature box. Include freeform fields or add an attachment. Waivers can be customized to contain both health information as well as new operational procedures for returning employees to sign off on.
Powerforms are the perfect method for screening clients and visitors. A single click takes potential visitors to a self-assessment questionnaire on your website, like this one by the Government of Canada, that can be completed at any time. A custom form is generated from their answers; the visitor then signs the waiver remotely from their own personal device (PC, tablet, phone). Powerforms are the most efficient way to create on-demand, self-serve documents for signature – and protect everyone the client may come into contact with on your premises.
Limit the exchange of paper
Digitized waivers are key to contactless advance screening. Saskatchewan healthcare specifically calls for “reducing the passing of documents back and forth” and “limiting the exchange of papers (e.g. signing contracts)”.
Benefits to Human Resources using remotely signed back-to-work waivers include:
- Proactive protection for all employees
- Compliance with federal and provincial health guidelines
- Secure end-to-end encryption of private employee information
- Automated and auditable method for contacting all staff
- Customizable forms suited to your work environment
- 24/7 access to waiver forms for client convenience
- Responsible protection for in-person visits
For HR teams, the pressure of the pandemic has put a strong focus on employee protection. Digitized, contactless solutions – especially those that help avoid potentially unsafe personal interactions – put the health of people first as Canada reopens its doors for business.