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The rise of the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”), the infectious disease which prompted the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic on March 11, 2020, has led to global uncertainty. COVID-19 is now thought to have spread to every continent except Antarctica, with the International Labour Organization estimating recently that as many as 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide as a result of the pandemic.

This disease is having a significant impact close to home, with cases rising in Canada and Ontario. Both governments have enacted measures to respond to the outbreak. The Canadian Government has announced a number of response measures through its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. On March 17, 2020, Ontario declared a state of emergency under s. 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act: this emergency order has since been extended to April 13, 2020. The Ontario Government has ordered all non-essential businesses to close effective 11:59 pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 and on March 25, 2020, the Ontario Government announced a number of new economic measures in its economic and fiscal update Ontario’s Action Plan 2020: Responding to COVID-19.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, KBA Partners LLP has prepared a primer addressing key questions regarding rights, obligations, and supports in the workplace in relation to COVID-19. While you should contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances, the resources in this document are intended to provide general information relating to certain key topics concerning employees and employers in relation to COVID-19. We encourage you to contact us directly for more information or advice.

The primer covers such key topics as:

  • Work refusals, requiring self-reporting of COVID-19 diagnoses or exposure, and sending employees home for reasons relating to COVID-19;
  • Leaves of absence potentially available to employees under the circumstances;
  • Termination and lay-offs as they relate to COVID-19;
  • COVID-19 and human rights in the workplace;
  • WSIB, Employment Insurance, and other benefits available for employees relating to COVID-19; and,
  • Government programs and policies, best practices, and other supports for employers and businesses.

Download the COVID-19 Employment Law Primer here.