Frequently asked questions about working during COVID-19

Current Status — UPDATED February 11, 2021

To minimize the number of people on our campuses and prevent the spread of COVID-19, all work that can be conducted remotely must continue to be conducted remotely until at least August 31, 2021. The only exceptions are:

One-time and occasional visits to campus can be permitted by supervisors and managers according to the above criteria. See the Approval Processes for Returning to Campus section of the Safety Measures General Directives for more information.

See the latest COVID-19 Information for the U of A Community »

What are critical on-campus services?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, on-campus critical services are services that, if interrupted, would (1) endanger the life, personal safety or health of our community, or (2) irrevocably damage the environment or university property. On-campus essential services include activities such as infrastructure maintenance, animal care, hazard risk management, security, and health care. Talk to your supervisor if you are unsure if your work is considered essential.

Who can work on campus?

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we must continue to minimize the number of people on campus, as well as appropriately manage the health and safety of those who need to be attending class or working on campus.

There are only a few exceptions for returning to campus:

  • approved in-person teaching exceptions
  • approved essential services on campuses
  • approved research activities that cannot be conducted remotely
  • approved limited work exceptions on campus (e.g., access to equipment or inadequate work space at home)
Review the exception approval process.
Can we work remotely permanently?

Working remotely has some benefits, so many faculty and staff members have been asking about permanent arrangements. We are exploring opportunities to accommodate remote work on a continual basis. 

How can I get more supplies?

Employees who need to pick-up and/or purchase supplies while working from home should keep the following in mind when doing so:

  • If the supplies are readily available at your place of work, arrange with your supervisor for an appropriate time to pick them up.  
  • If you require supplies that aren’t already in stock in your unit’s office, follow normal supply order procedures. This should involve placing a request with the individual who normally orders supplies for your office. 
  • For those ordering supplies, remember that our regular vendor agreements remain in place. 
  • All supplies ordered through SupplyNet and P-Card will continue to be delivered to central receiving at the university. Distribution Services is still providing regular delivery to campus locations. 
  • The individual who purchased the supplies can advise you when the supplies will be available and delivered to the office for pick-up. Don’t forget to confirm pick-up plans with your supervisor. 
  • Once the university returns to normal operations, any unused supplies must be returned to campus.
How do I get the equipment I need?

For those employees who are working remotely and who need to borrow university equipment to do so, arrangements to borrow items, including laptops, desktops, computer screens, office chairs, etc. can be made. Please ensure that you do the following:

  • Before taking any items, speak with your supervisor first. Supervisors are required to provide approval before items can be borrowed. 
  • Once approved by your supervisor, record the borrowed item(s) in your unit’s inventory tracking tool. If your unit does not have its own tracking tool in place, please use the Equipment Asset Loan Form.
  • When moving borrowed equipment, be sure to follow health & safety best practices. You can always visit the Environment, Health & Safety website for advice and procedures. 
  • Speak with your IT support team to find out how your borrowed equipment will work in your remote work space. For example, they’ll be able to let you know if you will need items such as an ethernet cable. 
  • Keep your computer equipment secure by following IST’s recommended and required best practices and policies for remote work. 

As a reminder, items borrowed must be appropriate for use in a residential location. For examples, lab equipment that could pose a risk if moved or stored outside a lab environment should not be borrowed. 

Can I be reimbursed for equipment?

Employees are encouraged to speak to their supervisor about eligible work expenses under the University of Alberta Expense Reimbursement Procedure and use their existing funding and reimbursement programs to cover work-at-home expenditures.

You can borrow equipment using the steps above.

Will I get a T2200?

While most University of Alberta employees have been working from home as a result of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many questions about whether employees will be allowed to claim employment-related work-at-home expenses on their 2020 income tax form (filed by April 2021).

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) form T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment is a form that must be completed by an employer to certify that an employee is required to work from home and incur non-reimbursable employment expenses before the employee may claim those expenses on their tax return.

The T2200 declaration has several specific criteria that must be met before an employer can sign the form. It is unusual for the criteria to apply to University of Alberta employees. However, given the unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic response, Human Resources, Health, Safety and Environment has been closely monitoring both the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Payroll Association for updates and changes regarding CRA’s process and criteria. More information will be communicated to employees when it becomes available.

What can I do about my remote work space and setup?

Your first move should be to speak with your manager; let them know what’s not working and why. Assess your home ergonomic setup. Use the Self Assessment Tool and e-course to help make the necessary adjustments to your workspace. 

I’m working remotely. Can I visit campus to pick up supplies or retrieve items from my office?

Yes, but prior to visiting you must coordinate with your supervisor or faculty to ensure applicable health measures can be followed, and you must minimize your time on campus.

Is my workspace, building, or lab ready, safe and clean?

If you have been approved to come back to campus to work, then your workspace has met all the public health requirements for a safe work environment. Meeting public health requirements will be the key consideration in approving additional work to operate or resume on campus throughout all relaunch stages.

Do your part to ensure the continued safety of our campuses and workspaces. While working on campus during the pandemic, diligently following public health requirements, all safety measures, and health and safety updates on the university’s COVID-19 website.

What can I do if I have a concern about my work environment?

If you have concerns about your current or proposed working environment—whether on or off campus—discuss it with your manager or supervisor.

Contact us

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask us at

More information