EMPLOYER RESOURCES DURING COVID-19
We are pleased to share with you resources from CEWIL on how to best serve your students remotely, as well as tips for students who are working from home.
We know you did not envision working from home during your placement or work term, and you can absolutely make significant contributions to the organization by working remotely. Below are a few tips to help get you started on the right foot.
Spending the time to develop a thorough onboarding process can help alleviate some of the stress and questions a student may have as they begin a work-term or placement. When done correctly it can also help to quickly integrate the student into your work place culture, even while working remotely.
Let’s face it, motivating and keeping your team ontrack while working remotely can be a challenge. For students on placements or work-terms it is also a time where they may feel unsure about how to connect and contribute to the team in a meaningful way. With a little effort and intention, supervising a student while working remotely can be a very rewarding experience for all. Below are some tips to help get you started.
Q: Are your Co-op program offices still open?
A: Yes, our offices are still open with staff all available to connect with you by email, phone or videoconference. SFU is following the provincial health guidelines for the post secondary education sector in BC directing all staff to work from home and remain off campus.
Please see our list of contact information for each of the co-op programs at: http://www.sfu.ca/coop/contact.html
Q: What if my co-op student indicates that they feel ill?
A: The health and safety of our co-op students and employers is of great concern to us. Our students are placed across the globe and in various workplace environments. We have advised our students that if they feel ill, they should follow the expert opinion of the local health authorities.
Q: If my co-op student is ill, what do we do next?
A: We have also advised students that they need to inform their employer if they are ill. Many students are concerned about the financial repercussions of staying home, and if your organization is able to offer sick pay, we encourage that communication.
Q: Is there funding available for co-op student work terms impacted by COVID-19 at this time?
A: The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak through the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html.
SFU Co-op is working hard to ensure our employers are being supported. We worked with our provincial and federal governments to develop additional funding for employers hiring co-op students which may be found here: https://www.sfu.ca/hire/summer/funding.html.
Q: Should co-op students work remotely during this time?
A: We’ve heard from several of our students and employers that they have moved to a remote work environment. If this is an option for you/for co-op students, we are in full support. If you are unable to offer a remote environment, we ask that you provide as much support as possible to any students who are feeling uncomfortable in the work place – including soap and water and hand sanitizer, social-distancing (i.e. not sitting side-by-side with coworkers, maintaining 2 metres space, providing barriers) or alternate working times, for example.
Please refer to the WorkSafeBC guidelines for a safe and healthy work environment.
Q: What is the process if we choose to end a co-op student's work term early due to COVID-19?
A: In the case that a student is either home ill or has decided to stay home to self-isolate, is uncomfortable working in-person, or if your business is unable to continue to operate, ending a work term early is an option. From the SFU perspective, we understand this situation and we ask that if you need to end a work term early, to please contact the Co-op Office to discuss the logistics and see how we can best support you and our student(s). For our students in this situation, there will be no academic penalties or negative impact on their co-op work term grade.
Q: What is happening with Fall 2020 work terms due to COVID-19?
A: Whether you already have a student working with you this Summer 2020 or you are hiring for the upcoming semester, Fall 2020 Co-op work terms are proceeding with employers following the guidelines for work safety within their regions. If located in BC, this will be WorksafeBC and BC’s ReStart Plan. Students are applying to jobs beginning in September and are keen to secure a co-op work term. Students that are currently working on a Summer 2020 work term are eligible to extend into the Fall if the extension works for both the student and the employer.
Q: What are some recommendations if we choose to move ahead with our Fall 2020 work term?
A: We are recommending following the guidelines for your region and country on workplace safety measures for reducing COVID-19. If located in BC, this will be WorksafeBC and BC’s ReStart Plan. We also recommend contingency plans for students to transition to working remotely should the guidelines for your region change for work safety.
Our Co-op programs are recommending students create their own contingency plans such as register for courses. We have also reduced the number of hours required for students to meet their work terms requirements.
NOTE: Due to the Government of Canada global travel restrictions, SFU has suspended all new international work terms until further notice. At this time, the Co-op office can only approve any new international Co-op work terms if students are able to work remotely from within Canada.
Q: Is there any flexibility on the number of hours required for Co-op work terms for the Fall 2020 semester (Sept - Dec)?
A: The minimum number of hours required for a SFU Co-operative Education work term has been reduced to 280 hours from 420 hours, if needed, to accommodate reduced operating hours for some employers. In addition co-op work terms may have a delayed start date or be conducted on a part time basis for Summer and Fall 2020. However, we recommend continuing students for their full-time work term if your organization has returned to full operations.
Q: What are my responsibilities while having students work on site?
A: Employers are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the policies, guidelines, and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplace. Employers are not required to submit plans to WorkSafeBC for approval, but in accordance with the order of the Provincial Health Officer, and this plan must be posted at the worksite.
Q: What are my responsibilities as an employer?
A: BC law states that a business be a safe and healthy place to work. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure you have a health and safety plan, while training staff, providing necessary support / equipment and reporting any incidents or injuries to WorkSafeBC.
Q: What are my responsibilities as a co-op supervisor?
A: Co-op supervisors play a critical role in a co-op student’s transition to the workplace. Supervisors are directly responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all workers under their supervision. Supervisors should also be aware of all known hazards at the work site and appropriate WorkSafeBC guidelines and procedures.
Q: What if I have more questions?
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) facilitates opportunities for students to 'learn by doing'. The WIL unit helps students become engaged in their education and career planning through career building opportunities. You will probably recognize WIL's flagship program – Co-operative Education.
Co-operative Education (Co-op) is a program where students explore their career options by alternating between study semesters and paid, resume-boosting work semesters. Co-op students graduate with a year of experience and an advantage over the competition.
Due to COVID-19 disruptions, the co-op program has introduced new flexible measures for Fall 2020 work terms, including:
- Reduced hours (280 minimum)
- Fewer work weeks (8)
- Delayed start dates (ie. June 1st)
- Part-time opportunities
Explore general recruitment options (full- or part-time) to choose among Career Services' customized solutions, ranging from job postings, career fairs, info sessions and more, targeting students and alumni.