Common FAQs Answered Regarding Employment Law During COVID-19

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What To Know About The CoVid-19 Pandemic And Your Workplace Rights. 

 As many of us are aware, there is a new virus spreading through the world. This virus, code-named COVID-19. By knowing what your rights are, you will be able to maximize your time off from work.  

Can I Refuse To Work Wherever There Is A Health And Safety Risk?

You may have the right to refuse to go to work if you feel there is a present danger to your health or safety. There must a be a real risk of infection for you to be able to stay at home. Any right would only last as long as potential infection is present.

If you are concerned about how your workplace is managing health and safety risks, you can raise this with your employer as they may not be aware of changes they need to make.

In many cases, employers may simply opt to allow employees to work from home to reduce the risk of spreading any infection. You may wish to check with your employer whether there are any policies in place for working from home.

My employer has temporarily laid me off. Is this allowed?

Generally, Ontario law permits temporary layoffs of various lengths as long as you are recalled within a certain time period specified by the Employment Standards Act, 2000. However, the right to lay off employees must usually be expressly reserved in your employment contract. In some situations, such a right may be implied, however the circumstances heavily depend on your prior employment history with your employer and the nature of your industry.

When the employer unilaterally imposes temporary lay off, it may be regarded as constructive dismissal and you may be entitled to receive severance pay. Also, a layoff that extends beyond the statutory period could be viewed as constructive dismissal“.

Despite being temporarily laid off, you may still be eligible to receive Canada Emergency Response Benefits (CERB) or Employment Insurance benefits. Please contact us for a free consultation to learn more about your specific situation.

My employer is closing down their business because of COVID-19. Do I qualify for severance pay?

If your employer declares bankruptcy, you are not entitled to severance pay. In the absence of bankruptcy, you would normally be eligible for severance pay and the amount would be determined based on your contract of employment, age, and length of employment. Laws governing employment standards and possibly other factors.

Can my employer reduce my pay/hours/benefits, etc. while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing?

Is there any pay or hour reduction that will qualify me for employment benefits?

The employer can make changes to the terms of an employee’s employment with their agreement. Otherwise, an employer cannot force you to accept any significant and harmful changes. Due to the widespread nature of this pandemic, you may have no choice but to leave the workplace and find another job in order to claim constructive dismissal.   In some circumstances it might be preferable for you to accept temporary pay reductions so that you can remain employed. If you do not agree to unilateral changes made by your employer, contact us today for a free consultation to determine whether you have a claim for Constructive Dismissal.

As of 17 April 2020, the Federal Government has expanded CERB entitlement to allow for low-income employees who are still working to earn up to $1,000 per month. It’s unclear how the regulation would effect employees who have had their salary reduced. However, it may be possible to claim for CERB in these circumstances. We would urge those who have questions regarding this to contact the Canada Revenue Agency directly.

On the same day, the federal government declared that it will consider pay increase for important low-income workers earning less than $2,500 per month with provincial governments. We will continue to update this page as further information is provided about this.

What You Need To Know About The Canada EI-CRB Program

The company should allow you to work from home and pay you at your regular rate. Otherwise, if you ceased working after March 15, 2020 owing to COVID-19, you may be eligible for the CRB. If you ceased working before March 15, 2020, and were eligible for EI benefits at the time but filed for EI after March 15. The government will process your claim under the present EI guidelines. Depending on your work, you may be eligible for short-term disability insurance coverage through group benefits programs.. You can find additional information about the eligibility criteria and applying for the CERB here.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, what type of leave am I eligible to? Is it possible for me to take compensated time off?

Bill 186, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 (“the Act”) expands the scope for job-protected unpaid leave. The Act prohibits employers from collecting medical notes in connection with the new types of unpaid absence. This type of protected leave begins on Jan 25, 2020, and ends on January 25, 2021.

Depending on the terms of your employment contract or your employer’s rules, you may be eligible to paid sick leave. Your employer may choose to extend paid sick leave to you but this would be subject to their discretion.

At Tailor Law, we can help you navigate any employment issues you may be facing during this difficult time. This article only provides general information and should you require assistance, please contact ourselves to book a free initial consultation. At this time, we are only offering phone consultations.

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