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COVID-19 and the Workplace: Frequently Asked Questions

Originally posted on March 3rd, 2020 by  at Global HR Lawyers – In A Flash – Matthews Dinsdale

The following provides general guidance to employers in dealing with the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the workplace. All should appreciate that this is a fluid situation and we will continue to update our clients as matters change. For specific issues, please speak with your Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

Where can employers get regular updates on COVID-19?

The Government of Canada’s Public Health Agency

Infection Prevention and Control Canada (ipac)

Is COVID-19 in Canada?

As of March 3, 2020, COVID-19 has been confirmed in three provinces: British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

While the Public Health Agency of Canada expects those numbers to increase, without sustained human-to-human transmission, most Canadian employees are not at significant risk of infection.

Can an employer restrict international travel?

As of March 3, 2020, the Government of Canada has posted travel health notices for non-essential travel to areas of China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Northern Italy, Singapore and South Korea due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Based on these advisories, employers should restrict business travel to these areas. Should employees travel to these regions for person reasons, they should be advised that their ability to return to the workplace will be assessed upon their return to Canada.

Can an employer stop employees who travelled in an area affected by COVID-19 from returning to work?

Depending on where they have travelled and the nature of the employer’s business, an employer may assess risks in the circumstances, and could restrict an employee from immediately returning to the workplace. For example, an employer who operates a senior’s community will have a dramatically different assessment than an employer operating a warehouse.

Prior to an employee returning to work, they should be asked to confirm that they have no symptoms of illness. Again, depending on the workplace and the risk associated with potential COVID-19 exposure, the employee may be asked to self-isolate even absent symptoms depending on where they have travelled.

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If the employee has these symptoms, they should seek medical attention and should not be permitted to return to work until they are confirmed by medical testing to either not be suffering from COVID-19 or that they no longer carry the virus.

If an employer holds an employee without symptoms out of work, is there a requirement to still compensate the employee?

This will depend on the circumstances, including where the employee has travelled from, the nature of the specific workplace, alternatives available (i.e. working from home) and any potential collective agreement requirements. While each situation will have to be assessed individually, there will be circumstances where holding an employee out of service, without pay, may be deemed reasonable.

What if an employee has COVID-19 and cannot work?

Where an employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to work, an employer must grant any applicable legislative leave to the employee, in addition to meeting any sick leave obligations outlined in employment agreements or collective agreements.

What if employees refuse to work because they are afraid of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace?

Employers have a positive obligation to take reasonable care in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of employees under occupational health and safety legislation. Where an employee has a reasonable basis to believe that there is a dangerous condition in the workplace, or that their duties present a danger to their health and safety, the employee may be able to refuse to attend work or perform certain duties.

In the event of a work refusal, the employer must respond in accordance with occupational health and safety legislation, which response will include an investigation into the concerns and, if appropriate, adopting measures to eliminate or reduce the workplace danger. This investigation will, in large part, be based upon the current scientific understanding of COVID-19 and the specific facts in the individual workplace. No reprisal for properly exercising a health and safety right may occur.

Can an employer fire an employee if they contract COVID19?

No. Employers may not terminate an employee or otherwise discriminate against an employee due to physical disability (which includes certain illnesses) under human rights legislation.

What if an employer needs to replace sick employees on a temporary basis to operate?

An employer can hire employees on a temporary basis. An employer may also ask healthy employees to work additional hours, provided the employer is complying with legislative provisions regarding overtime and excessive hours of work.

The time to prepare for such a contingency is now: employers should be assessing how many employees they require to operate effectively and what will happen if a large number of employees are unable to attend work.

Can an employer force employees to work from home?

Whether or not an employer can direct all or a portion of its workforce to work from home will depend on the reasons for the request. For example, if there has been potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, it may be reasonable to request certain employee self-isolate and work from home for at least a 14 day period.

Can an employer close their business due to COVID-19 outbreak?

An employer must ensure a safe working environment. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to close a business location. An employer’s obligation for providing notice or pay in lieu of notice to employees will be governed by the specific facts of each case.

Do employers have to buy personal protective equipment for employees?

Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment. If employees run the risk of becoming infected at work, the employer must provide personal protective equipment.

Previous Mathews Dinsdale articles on COVID-19

Workplace Pandemic Plans: What Employers Should Know

Novel Coronavirus: What Employers Need to Know

If you have any questions about this topic or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

TalentEgg launches Canada’s first candidate showcase featuring video profiles allowing students and grads to communicate strengths beyond the resume, improve visibility and directly connect to employers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 1, 2019 (Toronto, Canada). TalentEgg is pleased to announce Canada’s first talent marketplace featuring video-based features allowing candidates to introduce themselves beyond the resume and get noticed by employers. The platform helps Gen Y & Z candidates to tell their story in their own words by providing convenient, easy to use functionality that allows them to record their video introduction, upload their resume, and respond to interview requests from employers, from any device, on their schedule. With the TalentEgg Candidate Video Showcase, recruiters and employers now have the ability to search the job seekers’ video profiles with resumes and invite them to a video interview directly from the profile.

Video interviewing is now a mainstream assessment method in recruitment and student and grad job seekers are practicing and developing their digital interviewing skills while at University and College. Now they have an opportunity to put those skills to work in the real world and on their own terms on a platform where they can control their own message. The TalentEgg Candidate Video Showcase offers the candidate the ability to upload their resume and record a video introduction directly into their personal candidate profile. They can include a descriptive paragraph about themselves and credentials which are displayed to the employer and is searchable based on location, school, year of graduation, program of study and preferred industries, or by relevant keywords.

“Employers are looking for more efficient methods to recruit and interview graduates and improve campus recruiting efficiency. Students and grads are looking for new ways to get noticed by employers outside of traditional methods. Schools are looking for more ways to help their students and grads make the transition from school to work effectively by showcasing great candidates to employers of choice,” says Mary Barroll, President of TalentEgg. “TalentEgg’s Candidate Video Showcase brings all of these features and capabilities together at one digital job marketplace destination. We believe it’s a real win-win-win and an exceptional opportunity for schools, employers and job seekers alike, and a gamechanger in the campus recruitment space.”

“The resume is no longer an adequate tool for representing the potential that candidates can bring to the workplace. Job seekers are increasingly frustrated with their inability to differentiate themselves in their job search. They are eager to share more about themselves by answering questions and sharing other aspects of their character that, in the case of students and graduates, can supplement their sometimes limited work history,” says Catharine Fennell, CEO, videoBIO. “We are pleased to provide the video technology to support TalentEgg’s job marketplace to advance connections between employers and job seekers.”

To learn more and add a profile visit https://talentegg.ca/register

For more information please contact:

Mary Barroll
President, TalentEgg Inc.
Mary@talentegg.ca
416-358-3991

Natasha Reichen
VP of Operations, TalentEgg Inc.
Natasha@talentegg.ca
416-875-8055

CharityVillage and TalentEgg Acquire Bmeaningful

Toronto, ON. (May 9, 2017). CharityVillage, the largest and most popular job board in Canada’s nonprofit sector and TalentEgg, Canada’s leading job board and online resource for students and new grads announce Bmeaningful, Canada’s leading social impact career site has joined their family of online companies. Together, the family of companies will provide greater support, value and reach to its users and clients and are committed to helping people with their careers find purposeful work.

“Bmeaningful’s focus on social impact- including corporate social responsibility (CSR), social good and nonprofit – and their belief that there’s more to a job than making money are values that are aligned with CharityVillage and TalentEgg” says Wayne Albo, Chairman of CharityVillage and TalentEgg.

There’s a growing interest in having careers that allow you to make a positive impact at work. 88% of Millennials feel their job is more fulfilling when they have the opportunity to make a positive impact and the same study found that 76% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work and nearly two-thirds (64%) won’t take a job if a potential employer doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study

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