Coronavirus and employment: reviewing policies and resources

Companies have to review certain documents and resources they have on hand.

They also need to be aware of  government programs that address the coronavirus crisis prior to drafting or revising their policies or communicating with their employees.

These are what they have to have on hand:

  1. Employment contracts. The contract usually addresses sick leave or other available leaves. It may provide for procedure and approval processes.
  2. Insurance policies. Their own insurance policies may provide a hotline or a number for the employees to call so that the government hotline number 811 will not be unduly burdened.  
  3. Long-term disability or short-term disability benefits. There are opinions that getting the coronavirus is not considered to be a disability but clarify this with your insurance provider so as not to overlook this possible benefit.
  4. EI benefits. Employment insurance sickness benefits is available to employed Canadians who pay EI premiums (and self-employed people who registered to participate in the EI program). This provides up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine. This is equivalent to 55% or a maximum of $573 per week. The medical certificate requirement is waived. The one week period will also be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the 14 days of quarantine. There is priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine.
  5. Employment standards legislation. In British Columbia, employees are entitled to:
  • Critical illness or injury leave to provide care or support to a critically ill family member: (i) up to 36 weeks for a family member under 19 years old, and (ii) up to 16 weeks for a family member who is 19 years old or above
  • Family responsibility leave: Up to five days of unpaid leave in order to meet responsibilities relating to the care or health of a child in the employee’s care or another member of the employee’s immediate family
  • Compassionate care leave: Up to 27 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care or support to a family member with a serious medical condition creating significant risk of death.
Companies must also monitor travel advisories. Travel restrictions may be updated from time to time. Those who arrive in Canada will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Government announcements on tax breaks and stimulus packages/programs including the CERB, CEWS, CEBA, and CECRA must also be monitored from time to time as there are frequent updates.

If you need help with your policies or have employment issues due to COVID19, call us at 604-630-2350 or email us.

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Melissa Briones, LLB, CPHR

Welcome to Northam Law. We are an in-house counsel boutique firm handling the day-to-day legal needs of companies for a fixed fee.