March 13, 2020by Israel Foulon LLP
Since our March 12, 2020 E-Bulletin, there have been a number of further announcements of which employers should be aware (a few of which are listed below):
- The Ontario government has ordered that all public schools be closed for two weeks following March Break (which may impact employee availability due to child care issues).
- Ontario’s chief medical officer is warning citizens to “avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada,” and recommends the “immediate suspension” of all gatherings over 250 people.
- Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam has confirmed that Canada is now advising against all international travel.
As a result of these government announcements, we are now of the view that if an employee engages in any travel outside of Canada, employers will generally be justified in requiring that such employees self-quarantine upon return and only return to the workplace after they have been symptom-free for 14 days and have obtained medical documentation confirming same. Please contact us with any questions regarding specific cases.
Given the exceptional and unprecedented situation, we expect further developments in the coming hours and days.
Please also be aware that the Canadian government has announced important changes with regard to EI. In addition to waiving the one-week period for EI benefits, a spokesperson for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough has confirmed that the government is waiving the requirement for a medical certificate in order to qualify for EI sickness benefits, for those required to go into quarantine by law or by a public- health official. Individuals who are asked to self-isolate by their employers when public-health officials recommend it may also qualify.
While the exact documentation required is still evolving and yet to be determined, the government has announced its goal is to reduce barriers for those who need to go into quarantine. Despite the relaxed requirements regarding EI benefits, given that EI is solely a government decision, employers should ensure that they make no assurances or pronouncements regarding workers’ eligibility or the amount of EI benefits that would be received. Rather, employers may wish to simply provide Service Canada’s website and phone number.
Service Canada: 1-800-206-7218
Israel Foulon’s Response to COVID-19
Israel Foulon is assessing the situation as it evolves, and is taking all necessary precautions within its workplace. However, please be aware that our offices remain open and are fully functioning. In the circumstances, we encourage our clients to contact us by phone and email to the extent possible. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our clients and would be more than happy to assist you with concerns regarding COVID-19 or any other employment or labour matters.