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As British Columbia begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and enter Phase 3 of the provincial Restart Plan, tourism and hospitality businesses across the province are preparing to once again welcome guests.

Businesses are working hard to implement new controls to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, as communicated through the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC. This involves developing, implementing and communicating COVID-19 safety plans and adjusting business operations in efforts to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for staff and customers.

Whether you are a new job seeker applying for your first job or a seasoned worker returning to the workforce after an absence, the workplace you enter today may look very different than it did before the pandemic hit.

Despite all of these changes, one constant is the need for qualified, reliable employees.

BC’s tourism and hospitality industry is hiring!

Visit the go2HR Job Board and you will see that many employers are currently seeking to hire staff for the summer and upcoming winter season. In fact, the month of May saw an increase of 20,000 job vacancies across B.C.

Although health and safety protocols may vary from business to business, in line with the nature of the work being undertaken and any specific orders or guidance that apply, here are a few common COVID-19 controls and general expectations that you should be aware of (and prepared to ask your potential employer about):

  • Sick leave policy – Employees who have symptoms of, are sick with or who have been exposed to COVID-19 will not be permitted to go to work. Make sure you understand what the employer’s sick leave policy is.
  • Hand washing & cough/sneeze etiquette – Cough/sneeze into your elbow and wash your hands…often!
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g. masks, gloves) – Some employers require staff to wear face masks, while others leave it to each employee’s discretion to choose. Make sure you understand what the employer’s PPE policy is.
  • Physical distancing – While you will be eager to get to know your new co-workers, you will have to do so at a distance. All businesses will be seeking to ensure a 2-metre physical distance between individuals. Where this isn’t possible, then other requirements (e.g. wearing of masks) will be in place.
  • Health and safety controls (e.g. plexiglass, barriers, signs, table spacing) – Many businesses have had to modify their operations in order to accommodate new health and safety controls. These include the installation of plexiglass or tempered glass around payment stations, directional signage and barriers to control the movement of guests, and signs advising of their COVID-19 policies. In many cases, these controls have changed the way service is delivered (e.g. drive thru windows now use a range of tools – cups, trays, sticks - to extend the handover of items to the guest. Restaurants have fewer tables and may have removed a seat at each table so that servers can service the table while maintaining physical distancing). While many of these changes will be obvious when visiting, some may be behind the scenes. You may want to ask the employer how health and safety controls have changed the way they do business and perhaps the job you are applying for.
  • Health and safety training – Every employer in BC is required to develop and implement a COVID-19 safety plan and train their staff on the plan. These plans must be posted on the company’s website (if they have one) and be available in the workplace. As part of your research before applying, you may want to familiarize yourself with the business’s plan. You may also want to prepare to ask the employer what health and safety training they are providing and how their operation has changed, post COVID-19.

Health and safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. By doing some research in advance and familiarizing yourself with an employer’s COVID-19 safety plan and their health and safety expectations, you will be better prepared to adjust to the new work environment as well as protect yourself, your fellow team members and your guests.

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