There is no denying that the last few months have presented a noticeable shift in the working landscape. Regardless of industry, these are unparalleled times, and the Canadian government has quickly stepped in to make a number of changes in attempts to help those affected. From various wage subsidies that have kept small businesses afloat to mandatory quarantining and work-from-home orders, we really have been pulling out all the stops in order to try and navigate this virus as it happens.
Perhaps most important for business owners to be aware of are the various employment laws that have been put into place to ensure safety and security in the workplace. Hiring during COVID-19 presents a whole new set of considerations when it comes to the rights and requirements of both employees and employers alike.
This is a new situation for all of us and navigating the ups and downs won’t always be easy. However, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your employees, and to ensure a smooth transition into our ‘new normal’.
Here are some Canadian employment standards and laws to keep in mind when hiring during 2020!
Federal Health and Safety Laws
Of course, health and safety has been top-of-mind for the past several months, and this sentiment isn’t likely to disappear once the world reopens. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers are required to take any reasonable measure to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their employees. During this time of heightened awareness for physical health, this means taking steps like having personal protective equipment available at all times, putting social distancing measures in place and increasing cleaning and sanitizing efforts.
Many government sources recommend having health and safety plans in place that reflect your unique workplace needs and capabilities. This includes providing materials that are accessible by all employees so that they are aware of their rights, as well as the requirements of their employer. Employees reserve the right to refuse work if appropriate health and safety measures are not taken, so making sure these standards are met can become crucial to your overall productivity.
Worker’s Compensation Laws
COVID-19 also presents a new challenge for Workers Compensation claims. Contracting the virus on the job has been one of the most frequent claims made to Workers Compensation Boards across the country over the last few months.
Ensuring that your workplace is up to code and that you are protecting your employees from the possibility of getting sick by any means possible – remote working options, staggering start times, social distancing measures – can end up saving you from an influx of Workers Comp claims. Not only do these claims mean being short staffed for a few weeks and filling out a mountain of paperwork, having numerous claims on your record might paint your company in a bad light, in the same way having someone injured on the job would.
Disability and Human Rights Laws
Another good area to stay abreast of is matters surrounding disability and discrimination. Of course, any credible employer would never dream of discriminating against someone with a disability or a condition out of their control. But did you know that currently, being infected with COVID-19 is considered a disability? This means that if an employee of yours falls ill to the virus, they cannot be discriminated against or terminated for this reason under standard human rights legislation.
Furthermore, employers are precluded from discriminating against employees based on the health of their families or other complications that result from COVID-19: “[for example], when employees are required to stay home as a result of school or daycare closures, the employer will have a similar duty to accommodate the employee’s family obligations, up to the point of undue hardship.”
It’s important to stay compassionate during these times and understand that everyone is experiencing these changes in different ways and quite simply doing the best they can. The way you act now as an employer will dictate your relationship with your staff moving forward, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to help each other out wherever possible.
Do you have any questions about hiring during COVID-19? Next Level Group would be more than happy to field any inquiries you may have, or to even help you find your next team member. Contact us today!