Lawyer Highlights COVID-19 Employment Issues

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Sunira Chaudhri, employment and labor lawyer and partner at Levitt LLP, offers the following advice:

– I have been fired. What are my rights?

“Communication with the employer is essential. Most employees do not know when they return to work and most cannot afford to wait. Resist your layoff – let your employer know that you cannot afford to be laid off and that you are available to work full time. Document it by email. Even if your employer comes back and says “Too bad”, he lists that you do not accept the layoff and affirms your legal right to take the next step, which is either a reminder or an answer if you ever do. come on. to be called back. If you’re not, it turns into a conversation about what a severance might look like. If an employee said nothing during a layoff, he would have deemed that he accepted the layoff. “

– What if the employer masks a layoff as if it were related to COVID, but isn’t it?

“You should get legal representation. Find out if you made an HR complaint before the crisis or a human rights issue. “

– What are the rights of essential service workers if they are immunocompromised and do not feel safe from the public or do not bring their own PPE to work. Can they be reprimanded or dismissed?

“If an employee refuses to secure their workstations, this may include wearing gloves or masks, which could result in heavy responsibility for the employer. He could also be seen as the employer not providing a safe working environment. If they are sent home or refused, they would be right to take legal action against their employer. “

– What is the process for accessing the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the federal rescue program. Who is eligible and how do you apply?

“Anyone who has lost their job because of COVID, whether or not they are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and who has earned $ 5,000 in the past 12 months, is eligible for $ 2,000 per month for four months, unless he has already received employment insurance. for losing their jobs. If you requested E.I., EI will convert the application to CERB. It will be managed on the CRA website portal and claims are expected to open in the coming days. Once approved, you will begin receiving payment within 10 days. “

– Can employers force you to cut wages or cut hours until the end of this pandemic?

“A fundamental change of 15% or more reduction in your hours could be considered a constructive dismissal. While not perfect, if your employer provides 80% to 85% of your income in the long run, it is better to take it than throw it away, because employees are required to do what they can to stop their own losses. “

Answers have been changed for space.

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