Face covering requirement – tip sheet for managers

  • This tip sheet is designed to provide some further information and resources to support your responsibilities as a manager in carrying out the University’s mission in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically related to face covering requirements.
  • Face masks or other face coverings are required in common use areas of University buildings including corridors, lobbies, washrooms, elevators, meeting rooms, classrooms and teaching labs, or in any area where physical distancing is a challenge.
  • Employee-only areas, including research labs, are at the discretion of managers.

How does this impact you?

  • In addition to your requirements as a university community member, as a manager, you are also required to set the expectation with your teams based on physical setup and work activities in your area.
  • Ensure your team(s) is/are aware of the face covering requirements in common use areas of University buildings. This includes corridors, lobbies, washrooms, elevators, classrooms, teaching laboratories and meeting rooms, or in any area where physical distancing is a challenge.
  • Reviewing and communicating expectations specific to your work areas prior to employees returning to campus will eliminate confusion and help employees understand where face coverings are and are not required.

Why can’t some people wear a face covering?

There are several reasons why someone can’t wear a face covering.  Medical conditions can be visible or invisible, for example:

  • Need to see face in order to communicate, including lip reading and expressions
  • Individuals with face deformities that are incompatible with masking
  • Respiratory conditions where wearing a face covering may be physically or psychologically taxing on an individual
  • Sensitivities to fabric or external materials on the face area (including skin sensitivities, neurodiverse individuals such as autism, anxiety, etc.)
  • Feelings of harm with coverings over nose and mouth, including victims of violence.
  • Difficulty applying or removing a face covering without assistance 

What should I do if someone in my area is not wearing a face covering?

  • If physical distancing of two metres can be maintained between you and other people in employee-only areas, managers may permit individuals to remove their mask.
  • If your employee is unable to wear a face covering in the common use areas of the University, they should complete the Face Covering Exemption Verification Form, and provide it to Occupational Health (OH).  OH will verify the need, and work with the employee to find suitable alternatives to wearing a face covering. This may require exploring alternate work arrangements.  The manager will be engaged in these discussions and are required to assist in exploring reasonable alternatives as part of the workplace accommodation process.

How can I support my team members who have difficulty wearing a face covering?

Some techniques people may utilize in managing face covering requirements include:

  • Use of an alternate face covering provided by Occupational Health
  • Taking additional small breaks from the area to remove face covering
  • Attending meetings in open or outdoor spaces where physical distance can be maintained and does not require use of face covering
  • Seeking flexibility of being on campus and off site to minimize the amount of time a face covering is required.  Flexibility on when to be on campus so that individuals can wear a face covering when it works best to manage their condition
  • Considering alternate schedules to avoid busy times where close contact is higher (changing start times, break times etc.)
  • Considering alternate workstation location to minimize the need to wear a face covering.

As a manager, create opportunities for these techniques to be utilized or exercised in your space.  This can be integrated within your lab/department safety plans and protocols for return to campus, so all team members are aware of what to expect and what to do if the situation arises.

How do I respond to others who ask why someone isn’t wearing a face covering?

Our space includes people who can and cannot wear a face covering.  Individuals who cannot wear a face covering are following other measures to manage the spread of COVID-19, including physical distancing and hand hygiene.  The University welcomes ALL members.