Hello Everyone,

We are all faced with the difficult situation of COVID – 19 as we watch this pandemic change the way business and simultaneously employment is affected. On March 18, a prominent Toronto Employment Lawyer discussed on CBC risks involved in temporarily laying off staff – is getting sued by an employee something you should have on your radar? At times like these, what choices do you have?

When you employ someone, essentially you are providing a contract that the services/work they provide to your company will in turn be rewarded. Part of that agreement inevitably entails hours of work and compensation for those hours of work. During COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have had to resort to temporarily laying off their staff simply because businesses are unable to compensate due to lack of cash flow and/or there is simply no work to be done. This can be construed as constructive dismissal.

Constructive Dismissal occurs when the employer unilaterally, meaning with no consent, fundamentally changes the terms and conditions of said employee contract – IE hours of work and payment promised to your employees to the detriment of the employee and without adequate notice. As an employer you need to take every precaution to make sure that your business does not risk this exposure.

What can you do to minimize the possibility?

  • Respect is paramount – understanding that employees are in a vulnerable state and how difficult messages are communicated to them will be a vital factor in their reaction
  • Human Rights and Protected Grounds – employers must understand what these mean and how they may become a factor Employees currently receiving occupational accommodation are part of this.
  • Human Rights and Protected Grounds – employers must understand what these mean and how they may become a factor Employees currently receiving occupational accommodation are part of this.
  • Keep up to date with government responses to COVID-19
  • Pay particular attention to consequent employment law and regulation amendments such as minimum standards and EI entitlement.

Note: This is what our Employment Advisory Service is designed to provide our clients.

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