Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Legal Questions facing Employers

The fear and danger of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused significant economic upheaval in Canada. Businesses and individuals have had to cope with the crisis and adapt to the current reality.

We have identified a number of legal issues in the form of employment law questions from an employer’s perspective resulting from the COVID-19 situation.

If these questions affect you or your business then you may wish to speak to Karen Zvulony our employment lawyer who can discuss your particular situation with you and offer some answers to your legal questions.

Coronavirus Questions from An Employer’s Perspective

  • Do I have to continue to pay employees who have tested positive for Covid-19 or are in quarantine? What about employees who have chosen to self-isolate?
  • I have been forced to close my business temporarily, what are my obligations to my employees? Does it make a difference if I voluntarily choose to close? 
  • As an employer, what are my liabilities if an employee in my workplace tests positive for Covid-19?
  • Can I fire an employee who has Covid-19 and did not report it?
  • I have an employee that was underperforming for some time and want to terminate them now, can I?
  • Am I required to allow employees to work from home? 
  • What are my obligations if an employee refuses to come to work? 
  • What if an employee cannot work remotely or otherwise due to childcare responsibilities due to the school closures?
  • If I have to lay off some employees but not all, how can I lay off without showing favoritism or the employee claiming a Human Rights issue?
  • I recently hired some employees who have not yet started, given the current situation, I no longer have work for them, what are my obligations if any?
  • Can I retract any offers of employment due to the current situation? 
  • What if one of my employees is using this crisis as an excuse?
  • Can I stop an employee from travelling? 
  • Can I give an employee the option of taking a wage cut/reduced hours in lieu of a layoff or termination? 
  • What can I ask employees or potential employees about their health?
  • Can I fire an employee that refuses to come to work because they want to self-isolate, yet I see on their social media that they are out in public places? 
  • I have an employee that has family members whom they live with that recently returned from abroad, can I refuse to allow them to return to work? If so, do I have to pay them? 
  • Do I have to give employees severance who are terminated due to Covid-19? 
  • Do I have to rehire the same employees back after they have been laid off due to Covid-19?
  • Do I have to accommodate employees to work remotely from home? What if this is not possible?