Tracking Employee Absence During the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

Absence Notification Tool

As is usual practice for all illnesses, employees who are sick should stay at home.

A new Absence Notification tool on Western's My Human Resources is now active and ready for use. It is designed to provide the University with the vital information to track and monitor unanticipated absences from scheduled work during the current COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. A newly adopted policy requires all Faculty and Staff members (including part-time, contract, Postdocs, Graduate Teaching Assistants and Student Employees) to report each day of an unanticipated absence using the tool.

The tool, and monitoring of absence rates will allow Western to:

  • support the important work of the Middlesex-London Health Unit and other government agencies in identifying and treating possible COVID-19 novel coronavirus cases
  • keep our university community safe and informed
  • monitor our capacity to continue operations should absence rates escalate.

How to Access the Absence Notification Tool

To access the Absence Notification tool login to My Human Resources. The tool is also accessible through mobile devices. Employees are required use the tool to notify the University on each day they are absent from scheduled work. Once submitted, a notification email will be sent to your supervisor as well as to yourself as confirmation.

The Absence Notification tool will also list your history of absence notifications and allow changes or cancellations should this be required.

It is important to note that the Absence Notification tool allows (and the new policy requires) reporting of not just employee illness, but also:

  • absences related to the care of family members
  • self-isolation if you have returned from travel outside Canada
  • compassionate reasons 

Exceptions to the above: You are not required to, and should not use the tool if you are absent from Western but authorized by your supervisor to work from home.

The tool has been developed specifically for the reasons outlined above and absence notifications will not affect pay transactions or compensation. Supervisors and administrators will continue to enter hours worked to generate pay for hourly-paid contract employees. Salaried employees will continue to be paid in accordance with their employment contract provisions for various leaves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can't access or use the tool?

The absence notification application is fully accessible through a computer or mobile device. If an employee does not have access to either a computer or mobile device, they may call Human Resources at 519-661-2194, select option 3 and be directed to an Employee Leave Coordinator who will record the absence and send a notification to the employee’s supervisor. View instructions on how to use the tool.

When do I report an absence in the Absence Notification tool?

Use the tool when you experience an unanticipated absence, including those caused by sickness, family responsibility, compassionate/bereavement reasons or if you are self-isolating because of recent travel. Exceptions: You are not required to, and should not use the tool if you are absent from Western but authorized by your supervisor to work from home.

Need to modify your absence?

You may modify the date and/or reason for an entered absence through the on-line Absence Notification tool. Select the absence and select ‘Edit’.  Once saved, an email notification with the changes will be sent to your supervisor. Your supervisor will only see the date of absence. The reason will remain confidential in your personal My Human Resources account.

If you were not absent, you may cancel an entered absence. Click on the absence and select ‘Cancel’. Once saved, an email notification will be sent to your supervisor.

I normally contact my supervisor when I need to be absent. Do I still need to use this tool?

Yes, you are still required to use the on-line Absence Notification tool to report an unanticipated absence due to personal illness, self-isolation because of out of country travel, caring for family members, or bereavement, regardless of how you normally disclose your absences. If you have already contacted your supervisor, you are still required to enter your absence notification in order to facilitate the University’s absence tracking. You do not have to complete the tool if you have been authorized to work from home.

For how long will I need to report unanticipated absences?

At this time, the University is requesting all employees use the tool to report unanticipated absences until further notice. We will update this page when reporting through this tool is no longer required.

What are the unanticipated absences I should be reporting?

Here are the absences you should be reporting by using the new tool.  Exceptions: If you have been authorized by your supervisor to work from home, you do not need to report your absence.

Sick Leave

All employees are required to report any sick days using the on-line Absence Notification tool. When you report an illness related absence you will be asked whether the reason is “flu-like symptoms” or “other”.

Flu-like symptoms have been defined as having a fever or chills within the past 24 hours PLUS a new or worsening cough and/or a sore throat and/or shortness of breath. 

The absence may be paid or unpaid, depending on the type of leave and the employment policies or collective agreement provisions applicable to your role at Western.

Family Responsibility Leave/Compassionate Care Leave

Western’s new Absence Notification tool also asks employees to report on absences related to family responsibility leave or compassionate care leave.

Members of Western employee groups will find information regarding Family Responsibility Leave/Compassionate Care Leave in their collective agreement/employee policies and in Ontario’s Employment Standards Act.

Part-time and temporary employees who were scheduled to work and reported their absence on the Absence Notification tool or by contacting Human Resources can explore with their supervisor flexible work arrangements, including working from home.


As per instructions from Canada's Public Health Officer and the Middlesex London Health Unit, all travellers returning to Canada from abroad are asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days, whether they have symptoms or not.  Select this option to report self-isolation.


Western’s new Absence Notification Tool also asks employees to report on absences related to bereavement.

Employees will be asked to select the reason for the Bereavement absence:

  • Death of immediate family member or
  • Death of other

Who is required to report their unanticipated absence in the Absence Notification Tool?

All Faculty, Staff, Postdocs, Graduate Teaching Assistants and Student Employees should report absences.

Should I use the absence notification tool only for Covid-19 related absences, or use it for all unanticipated absences?

All unanticipated absences should be reported in the Absence Notification Tool.

Am I required to provide doctor’s notes for the short term unplanned absences?

Notes from a physician are only required if you are absent 21 days or more.

I've just returned from a trip outside Canada. What should I do?

Staff and faculty who have recently travelled outside Canada are asked to follow directions from the Government of Canada and the Middlesex London Health Unit and self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Employees who are self-isolating must report their absences using the new online Absence Notification tool or by calling Human Resources, and should continue to follow normal departmental communication processes for absence notification. 

If an individual has become ill during the self-isolation period, they should contact your unit's Health & Well-being Consultant.

Will employees who become sick still receive pay?

Sick leave entitlement will be in accordance with applicable collective agreement or policy provisions.

Will leaders ask employees to go home if they are exhibiting symptoms?

Leaders will encourage employees to go home and care for themselves if they are exhibiting symptoms, in order to promote a safe environment for all employees.

Are essential service employees, as identified by the University, eligible for reimbursement of cancelled travel/vacation costs?

Essential service employees who have missed vacation due to work obligations will be reimbursed for any unrecovered, out-of-pocket expenses.

What supports are available to employees who require medical accommodation?

Employees who require medical accommodations should contact their unit's Employee Health & Well-being Consultant.

If I am returning to Canada and have to self-isolate for 14 days, will I be paid for these days?

  • Employees will receive pay in accordance with the leave provisions of their contract or collective agreement.
  • Employees who are able and are approved by their supervisor to work remotely during their quarantine period, will be paid for the days or schedules they work remotely.
  • Under Ontario employment law, all employees have their job protected under an Infectious Disease Emergency Leave if they need to self-isolate and cannot work.
  • Employment insurance benefits may be payable for employees taking an Infectious Disease Emergency Leave.

If I need to stay home due to school and day care closures, what should I do?

Please notify your supervisor and complete the Employee Notification Tool for your absence.

Where can I find more information on coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The webpage COVID-19 Information for the Campus Community is regularly updated with the latest information available.

Who do I call if I have further questions?

Any questions you have may be directed to or you may call Human Resources at 519-661-2194.

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