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COVID-19 raises too many potential concerns for employers to address in a short article.
However, as a starting place, we recommend employers consider the following:
1. Stay Informed – employers should be checking official government websites regularly for the latest information from the federal and provincial government. The situation is rapidly evolving and the restrictions in place that will impact you and your employees will continue to change.
- Government of Alberta – COVID-19 coronavirus info for Albertans
- Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease
Information that will impact your workplace should be shared with employees. Reassure your employees that you are working to stay informed and will prioritize their health & safety. Keep employees informed of what steps you are taking to address the situation.
2. Check Your Policies and Collective Agreement – you likely have a sick leave policy in place already that can be relied on, or if you have unionized staff, a Collective Agreement. Consider how you have handled requests from employees for things like childcare leave in the past. While the situation is novel, some of the issues it brings up are not.
However, developing a policy specific to this situation is a good idea, if possible. If you need a template or assistance with developing a COVID-19 policy, we can help.
3. Consider Your Bottom Line – ask yourself the difficult questions and consider the economic impact this may have on your organization. What are the essential services that need to continue for your organization to function? What can wait?
A business continuity plan should be developed, with a worst-case scenario in mind.
If you are in a situation where you may have to reduce staff, get legal advice before taking any steps to do so. There are a number of unique legal implications that need to be considered.
4. Be Flexible, Accommodate – can your employees work from home? Facilitate that, if possible. Does an employee need more flexible hours to look after children? Facilitate that, if possible.
COVID 19 and the resulting school closures raise significant human rights issues for employers. If you have questions about the duty to accommodate or your obligations under human rights legislation, let us know.
5. Know Your Obligations & Rights – COVID-19 does not mean that employers have no ability to manage and control their business to mitigate the long-term impact of the pandemic.
Employers should get legal advice not only to ensure they are meeting their obligations, but also to ensure they know where those obligations end.
If you would like to learn more, please contact our Labour & Employment Team or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the webinar recording hosted on March 19, 2020.