COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

From how to take care of your employees, to how to remain financially stable

March 25, 2020
If an employee has just returned from a vacation abroad, can I force them to stay home for at least 14 days as per governments recommendations, and if so, am I responsible to pay them?”
Yes, you may force them to stay home, as the federal government requires all travellers arriving from international destinations to self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms (even a low-grade fever or mild cough) they should contact their healthcare provider or public health department.

In this instance, the employer is not obligated to pay employees. Can I send employees home? Why would we ask this? Yes. Occupational Health and Safety requires employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees.
However, be wary of singling out an employee to stay home as a preventive measure if other employees are continuing to come into the workplace. The reason to remove the employee from the workplace needs to be supported by facts, and be in-line with public health guidelines to avoid raising concerns over discrimination. Am I responsible to pay employees who decide to self-isolate? No, you are not responsible to pay employees who you have sent home, or who have decided to stay home on their own.
Employees who are under quarantine self-isolation can apply for EI benefits for the 14 days by calling 1-833-381-2725. The government has increased the EI benefit and has waived the mandatory 1 week waiting period for these cases. As my business slows down and revenue disappears, are there other government programs that will provide financial assistance? With flexible and tailored solutions, BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada) can help you through this situation with the right financing and advice for your business:

Small Business Loan

Up to $100,000 can be obtained online in as little 48 hours from time of approval.

Working Capital Loan

Get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support everyday operations.

Purchase Order Financing

Increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with flexible terms.

What is Workshare and how do I apply for it? (This is an important program once the pandemic has ended but before the economy starts to fire on all cylinders again.) Workshare Programs are in place to help companies recover from a slowdown stemming from the current COVID-19 pandemic with income support for employees working in a reduced capacity. The Government has now doubled the length of programs from 36 weeks to 72 weeks and have eased the recovery plan requirements. Since the program has an application process, it is recommended that employers begin to apply now.

Contact an EIO Expert using the form below to assist with the application. Can I lay-off employees during COVID-19 due to shortage of work? Yes. The Employment Standards Act allows employers to temporarily lay-off employees due to shortage of work. Layoffs are permissible if business revenue decreases due to the current pandemic to the point where owners face no other alternatives.

For more information contact an EIO Expert.  Can I cancel the employee benefits while employees are on temporary lay-off? No. When employees are temporary laid-off it is a requirement that the benefits remain active during this time. This is how the layoff is deemed temporary, rather than a termination.

Some insurance companies are allowing business owners to suspend or pause benefits for a 3 month period. Following ESA guidelines during this pandemic is important to ensure you mitigate the liability and risk. Therefore, it’s important to keep benefits active during temporary lay-offs. Just because the insurance companies are offering this program does not mean it is ESA approved.

What can employees do if they are not working and do not qualify for EI? The government has recently opened up a benefit for those who do not qualify for regular EI. This benefit is called Emergency Response Benefit. Those who qualify for this benefit will receive $2,000/month for the next 4 months. This will be available as of April 6th, 2020 and those who would like to apply will do so online. This benefit will be retroactive to March 16th, 2020. 

For more information on this benefit, click here.

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