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What Employers should know about a Second COVID-19 Lockdown

Posted:  Nov 16, 2020

What Employers should know about a Second COVID-19 Lockdown

 

Countless businesses have been negatively affected by the 2020 pandemic across Canada. With the recent upward spiral of cases, many employers and businesses are wondering how to prepare for a second COVID-19 lockdown.

Although most businesses were caught off-guard during the first wave of COVID-19, they can be better prepared for a second or third wave. Now is the time to avoid legal pitfalls with employees. By assessing proper procedures and increasing communications with staff and customers, you’ll survive the pandemic.

This is what employers should know about a second COVID-19 lockdown.

COMMUNICATIONS WITH EMPLOYEES

Be proactive and keep employees informed about upcoming changes. It is absolutely vital employers let employees know there is a system in place concerning another potential lockdown. Make announcements accessible to everyone regarding timelines as well.

Obviously, COVID-19 is creating a great deal of uncertainty and panic. A mindful employer chooses to mitigate employee worry and stress. Give employees access to available resources, such as an employee assistance program. Schedule regular meetings to support and engage staff in open discussions. Give everyone the opportunity to voice concerns so everyone feels heard and supported.

Certain workers may require additional support during this time. He or she may be caring for elderly family members and children in school. Fear and anxiety should be dealt with accordingly to keep employees reassured and feeling safe.

POTENTIAL LAYOFFS

Revise and update employment agreements as needed to clarify potential layoffs. Also keep current on temporary layoff laws. When in doubt, employers should review each potential layoff individually and seek legal advice as circumstances vary from worker to worker. Indeed, the lack of a legal layoff clause can make layoffs unenforceable and may compel an employee to seek legal guidance.

FINANCIAL IMPACTS

Plan ahead for financial impacts to avoid further economic damage. Look for ways to cut costs, reduce staff, and investigate additional revenue sources. Now’s the time to get creative and think outside the box.

Further, consider investing time and money in technology that enables employees to work safely from home.

WRONGFUL DISMISSALS

A second lockdown could force employers to dismiss employees to manage losses. In this case, the potential dismissal should be thoroughly reviewed to ensure laws are not violated.

Be aware of British Columbia’s Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Do not dismiss an employee simply because an employee becomes sick with COVID-19 or needs to care for a family member who has contracted it. Consult with a legal professional to prevent expensive wrongful dismissal claims.

WORKPLACE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Make sure employees know your business is compliant with current COVID-19 safety protocols in addition to employment related legislation. Assess health and safety policies so your business is ready for another lockdown.

Health and safety policies need to be adapted as required. Have expectations outlined in policy drafts. Disclose proper protocol for sick leave, time off, and a return to work post-lockdown. Employers should further be informed about government rules and regulations in the event of a second lockdown, such as an extension of CERB benefits.

Lastly, have adequate hygiene supplies and PPE. Provide ongoing safety education for staff. Assign workers to regularly clean work areas.

Emphatically, employers forced into a second lockdown must be mindful of these factors. It is entirely possible the health risks may delay the re-opening process of businesses and services once again. Eventually, the province may elect to restrict re-opening in some cases to curb rising COVID-19 cases.

Employers uncertain how to deal with employment, health, safety, and mental health issues are encouraged to hire an experienced employment lawyer and avoid potential litigation.

Stevens & Company Law Corporation has professional employment lawyers to assist you with workplace laws during these extraordinary circumstances. Our team offers solutions and strategies to resolve challenges. We can work together with you to create clear policies and procedures, update job descriptions, and more. Call us today to speak with one of our attorneys at 250-248-8220. 

 

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