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What Employers in Atlantic Canada Need to Know About COVID-19

16 March 2020 by Nancy Barteaux

The COVID-19 outbreak is here, and we are all acutely aware of the uncertainty as government and health authorities work to respond and give direction. The following tips cover things to think about while managing your workplace during this time.

While businesses remain open

  • Implement additional hygiene procedures. This is one we’ve all been hearing for a couple of weeks now, but it bears repeating that this is a key step in preventing transmission. Ensure there is sufficient hand soap and disinfectant available to clean frequently used surfaces throughout the day. 
  • Inform employees considering travel and those returning from travel about self-isolation procedures, including remote work arrangements where possible and paid leave procedures as much as possible.
  • The best practice is to ensure self-isolation periods are paid, but where that is not possible organizations should be prepared to assist employees with applying for EI.

Proactive measures in preparation for potential closure

  • Prepare a COVID-19 Response Plan. This plan should identify essential business continuity functions, remote work requirements, what personnel and resources are needed to operate through this time period, and what arrangements will be made for non-essential personnel.
  • Identify a “Communications Coordinator” who will coordinate necessary updates to employees during a potential closure.
  • Review the applicable notice of termination or layoff provisions in the applicable employment standards legislation in the event of a multi-week closure.

Implementing a closure

  • If your organization is in the position of needing to coordinate terminations of employment, review the notice of termination provisions and group termination provisions of the applicable employment standards legislation, and exceptions to notice if applicable.
  • Pay attention to any employees on disability benefits. Generally, these employees should not be included in any termination measures as this cuts off their disability benefits. 
  • Maintain an open line of communication between employees (including employees you will be seeking to recall or rehire) and the Communications Coordinator.

We understand that this situation is quickly evolving. If you need specific advice on how to handle next steps for your organization, please contact one of our lawyers for advice.

Posted by Nancy Barteaux

Nancy is the Managing Partner of Barteaux. She acts for employers in all manner of employment-related issues, including complex disputes and collective bargaining negotiations. As a senior labour and employment lawyer with a proven track record of success, she is recognized in Nova Scotia and across Canada. Nancy has appeared before all levels of court in Nova Scotia, as well as the Supreme Court of Canada.