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Responses to COVID-19 in the Context of Employment – the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020

By Employment Law

COVID-19 and its impact on society are significant and unprecedented. In many parts of the world, society has essentially been put on pause – social distancing requiring many areas to temporarily close all inessential services. This has had a substantial impact on many employment situations, as all those who can work at home are strongly encouraged or required to do so. In the name of public health and safety, many businesses are closed and/or losing significant income, resulting in layoffs and terminations, and many people are quarantined due to potential exposure to the virus. Governments have had to respond quickly…

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Changes to Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

By Employment Law

The Government of Ontario recently created a new regulation under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) in furtherance of its efforts to control and minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment. The new regulation deals with “infectious disease emergency leave” and affects whether non-unionized employees have been terminated or constructively dismissed under the ESA in certain situations. Generally, when an employee is laid off for a period longer than a temporary layoff, as defined by the ESA, he or she is considered to have been terminated for the purposes of the Act. In such cases, the employee…

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COVID-19, Mass Layoffs & Wage Reductions, Forced Resignation, and EI Applications

By Employment Law

The recent global pandemic COVID-19 has led to a significant slowdown in Canada’s economy. In light of the ongoing financial stress and anticipated recession faced by many consumer-based businesses like restaurants, retailer stores, and airline companies, many employers have decided to downsize their workforce and lower salary standards indefinitely. In this dilemma between staying with current employers and finding alternative jobs with higher compensation, employees often fear that resigning from their current job with reduced pay will disqualify them from EI entitlement, making their lives even harder by starting a job search without any sources of income. Employment Insurance Act…

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More Government Action in the Time of COVID-19: Temporary Pandemic Pay

By Employment Law

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact workers in all areas, governments are attempting to find ways to provide relief. For example, the Federal Government has created the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which are intended to help those who have lost work due to the pandemic and to prevent the loss of work by subsidizing employers, respectively. These are just two examples of many responses to the pandemic that governments in Canada are taking to attempt to help its workforce. Recently, the Government of Ontario announced that it was implementing a new measure to help…

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Can an Employee Refuse to Return to Work Because of Covid-19?

By Employment Law

As the Province’s economy begins to reopen, employers and businesses are beginning to recall their employees. Many employees are concerned about the health hazards that a premature return to work may pose. Employers are concerned about the legal challenges they may face if an employee refuses to return to work. On account of the foregoing, the question on many peoples’ minds at the moment is, can an employee refuse to return to work due to Covid-19? In short, the answer is no, though there are exceptions. Provided that the employer is legally permitted to open its doors (i.e. provincial orders…

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Are Covid-19 Related Lay-Offs Constructive Dismissals?

By Employment Law

On account of the ongoing Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic (the “Pandemic”), on March 17, 2020, the Government of Ontario declared a state of emergency under section 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. As a result of this declaration and its associated orders, several establishments and businesses were legally required to close. Further, on March 23, 2020, the Government of Ontario ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces, effective March 24, 2020 (the “Second Order”). The forced closure of non-essential businesses has been in effect for over a month, with the possibility of being extended as…

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Employment in the Time of COVID-19: Federal Measures

By Employment Law

Many employers are suffering from loss of business due to the impact of COVID-19. As a result, many people are finding themselves without work, either due to being laid off or terminated. Governments worldwide are attempting to lessen the economic impact of the pandemic. In Canada, the Federal government has taken several steps with a view to helping Canadians who are being impacted economically by the novel coronavirus. These include measures designed to help employees experiencing a loss of income due to COVID-19, and to support employers with a view to preventing layoffs. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit The Canada…

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Can Professional Associations Mandate Their Members’ Speech?

By Employment Law

Most professionals like engineers, doctors, pharmacists and lawyers are governed by professional associations. These professional associations actively engage in regulating their respective licensees to ensure a minimum level of competency with a view to protecting the public interest. Associations are also empowered to protect members of the public by maintaining the capacity to discipline and sanction their members. For instance, the Law Society of Ontario regulates the more than 50,000 lawyers who practice in the province and can investigate and sanction lawyers who have been found to violate the Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct or its By-Laws. Accordingly, these professional…

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The Gig-Economy, Inter jurisdictional Working Arrangements, and the Choice of Law

By Employment Law

One of the emerging trends in Canadian workplaces is the increasing number of flexible working arrangements. The rise of online services, and gig-economy apps like Uber and Doordash, has afforded many Canadians the ability to set their own hours. These work arrangements occur through independent contracting agreements that are either national or international in scope. For example, an Ontario corporation could enter into an exclusive distributor agreement with a British Columbia resident while an Alberta resident could enter into a service agreement with a California tech company. These inter-provincial and international arrangements create their own unique legal challenges, especially since…

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What Happens When Just Cause for Termination Is Discovered After an Employee Has Already Been Dismissed?

By Employment Law

Whether someone is terminated with or without just cause can have significant financial implications. Where an employer correctly terminates an employee for just cause, it is not required to provide the employee with any notice of termination or payment in lieu thereof, unlike where the dismissal is without cause. However, the employer does not necessarily have to get it right at the time that the dismissal is communicated to the employee. After-acquired cause refers to just cause for termination that is discovered after an employee has already been dismissed. Although it gives employers some room for error at the time…

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