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Working at NRCan during COVID-19

All employees should continue to work from home until further notice, unless you have been instructed by management as a part of the re-entry to the workplace strategy. Everyone should continue practicing physical (social) distancing and follow the advice of local health authorities.

If you are a manager, please see the latest on managing employees during COVID-19.

On this page:

New IT service desk procedures

  • We will troubleshoot all issues remotely, either by calling the Service Desk (613-943-4141 or 866-943-4141) or by emailing us
  • Employees should not show up in person at Service Desk locations without an appointment
  • Employees who need help in person should contact the Service Desk by telephone to leave their name and phone number, and will be contacted to return at an appointed time
  • Critical services and critical support for employees will be prioritized   
  • Employees who do require in-person interactions with the Service Desk will be asked to practise appropriate physical distancing. For example, maintaining a separation of no less then three feet.

Best practices for remote work

Working remotely has its challenges, especially when it involves team work and collaboration. It requires new practices to ensure strong working relationships, effective communication and a sense of belonging.

Download this reference tool and explore best practices for employees and managers to get the most out of remote working.

Your mental and physical health

If you are feeling nervous or distressed about this situation, we encourage you to learn more about mental health in the workplace during COVID-19 (PDF, 484 KB), speak with your manager, or contact the Employee Assistance Program available 24/7 at 1-800-268-7708 (TTY: 1-800-567-5803).

Employees may be experiencing a high degree of uncertainty, worry, anxiety and stress about the health and safety of their loved ones and how COVID-19 (coronavirus) may disrupt their work and personal lives.

It is important for all of us to acknowledge these impacts and engage in an open dialogue about them — including ways to maintain and support our mental health. It is particularly important to recognize and support those who are more directly involved in the management of the situation and those who have been instructed to self-isolate or who are suffering from symptoms of COVID-19.

Get tips on managing during COVID-19:  

Wellness Together Canada

Health Canada has launched a new mental health and substance use support portal on and the Canada COVID-19 app. This new portal, called Wellness Together Canada, will make it easier for Canadians to find credible information and help them address mental health and substance use issues. This portal will also connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, at no cost.

Updates to the Public Service Health Care Plan

Following the announcement on March 24 of temporary measures introduced to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP), the Government of Canada is introducing additional temporary changes to the PSHCP. Taken together, these measures will help plan members and eligible dependants access health care benefits while minimizing social interaction with health care professionals. These temporary measures will remain in effect until non-critical business is authorized to resume or as indicated otherwise.

Ergonomics for remote work

During this unprecedented pandemic situation, all employees working remotely are encouraged to follow best practices for ergonomic workspace and habits, to the extent possible. Frequent breaks are encouraged to help alleviate stress and prevent musculoskeletal strains.

NRCan is committed to supporting healthy work environments, notwithstanding current circumstances. Explore the guidelines for when the acquisition of ergonomic items is permitted.

In all cases, employees should limit requests for ergonomic equipment to that which is absolutely necessary for their health and safety, and reasonable to accomplish ongoing work.

Reach out to NRCan’s Technology Accessibility Centre (TAC)

The TAC’s Ergonomics at Home guide (PDF, 662KB) has more tips, including wrist and forearm support, comfortable use of tablets and mobile devices, proper monitor height and keyboard and mouse use.

If you need more ergonomics help, send questions or a photo of your office to the TAC team mailbox. They can answer your questions by email, phone or video chat to help you set up your office as best as possible.


Employees should be aware of the heightened risk of COVID-19 phishing campaigns to lure targets to click on malicious links. Follow cyber security guidance to protect yourself from these types of attempts.

Get advice and guidance on how to protect yourself and your technology

In addition to staying home and staying safe, be proactive by learning what you can do to stay safe online. It is important to stay informed about cyber security during times of heightened levels of technology use. 

Learn more about cyber security at work.

Taking leave

There are various types of leave provisions within an employee’s collective agreement which may be useful depending on the situation for which leave is being requested.

In a pandemic situation, many factors may need to be considered given the uniqueness of the situation. Supervisors and managers are encouraged to be flexible with working arrangements and leave provisions for employees in need.

Find out more about employee illness and leave

Using leave code 699 - effective November 9, 2020 and subject to changes

In order to facilitate a more effective tracking and reporting of 699 leave data on a weekly basis, please remember that employees are required to enter into PeopleSoft all 699 leave taken during each week by the end of that week. This leave will then need to be approved or declined at the end of each week. It is important to enter only the leave taken during that week. This means that those using 699 leave on an ongoing basis will need to submit weekly leave requests.

It is crucial that the above process is followed by employees and managers as we are noting that this leave is still being entered late or on a retroactive basis. Requests for paid leave must be submitted in the PeopleSoft self-service. Login using your NRCan network user name and password. Refer to the User guide for employee and the Peoplesoft – FAQs webpage.

Please note that final approval of 699 leave should be made by the level 3 or 4 manager as per the NRCan Delegation Instrument - Delegation of Authority for Human Resources.

It is also important to remember that when submitting COVID-19 related 699 leave in PeopleSoft, employees must indicate in the “comments” section the type of applicable COVID related 699 leave. Accordingly, please ensure that leave is entered as a single transaction for each COVID type and that the appropriate type of COVID-related leave is entered as defined by the Treasury Board Secretariat:  

  • COVID_Illness: This is where an employee displays symptoms of COVID-19 and/or is required to self-isolate.
  • COVID_Caregiving: This is for employees with children required to isolate and/or showing symptoms of COVID-19 with no alternative arrangements available, unexpected daycare/school closure or at high risk.
  • COVID_Technology: This is for limitation of employee technology, including VPN access or lack of work equipment/tools to perform the duties from home or cannot report to work due to closure.
  • COVID_HighRisk: This is for an employee or someone in their care deemed to be at high risk of developing a severe illness from COVID-19.

Any questions regarding the use of COVID-19 related leave 699 can be sent to the COVID-19 inbox or Labour Relations.

If you are a supervisor or manager who requires advice or guidance, please contact your Labour Relations Advisor and read more on the use of "Other Leave with Pay" (699).

Questions or additional information on COVID–19

Email the COVID-19 mailbox

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