As a small business, and as HR Consultants, we are experiencing the impacts of COVID-19 along with you. There’s a lot of information out there, and much of it is changing often. We wanted to provide a resource that shares relevant HR related information and support for organizations. Below you will find highlights as well as links to trusted websites with current information. This page will be updated regularly as information changes:
We are grateful for the opportunities to help guide our clients through this challenging time. Our services continue and we have ways to support you remotely. Please reach out if you need help or support during this time.
This information was last updated on April 24th at 11 a.m. CST
The province of Manitoba is adding a temporary exception to employment standards regulations to give employers more time to recall employees laid off as a result of COVID-19. Under current legislation, when an employee has been laid off for 8 or more weeks within a 16-week period it triggers a termination of employment, and employees are entitled to wages in lieu of notice. While there are some standard exceptions to this, this new temporary exception is very helpful for business during this time. Any period of layoff that started after March 1, 2020 will fall under this new temporary exception.
Other provinces have specific regulations around layoffs and have made exceptions for layoffs during this time. Some additional resources can be found here:
Public Health Emergency Leave
Manitoba has introduced a temporary job-protected leave for employees who are unable to work due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The leave applies when:
- the employee is in quarantine, isolation or self-isolation in order to follow guidance or directives issued by specific public health authorities for reasons related to COVID-19;
- the employee is under medical examination, supervision or treatment related to COVID-19;
- the employee must comply with or is subject to an order made under The Emergency Measures Act or The Public Health Act as a result of COVID-19;
- the employee is providing care, support or assistance to a family member as a result of COVID-19, including but not limited to, school and daycare closures;
- the employer directs the employee not to work because the employer is concerned about the employee’s exposure to others;
- the employee is directly affected by travel restrictions and cannot reasonably be expected to travel to their workplace.
The government will provide eligible small employers, non-profits and charities with a temporary wage subsidy to help keep employees on payroll during this time. The subsidy, originally announced at 10% , was increased up to 75% for a 3 month period. The subsidy will cover 75% of an employee’s salary, up to a maximum of $847 a week. The subsidy will be retroactive to March 15th, 2020, and in order to qualify, businesses have to have had a demonstrated reduction in revenue. The application process is available through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Business Account portal as well as a web-based application.
Organizations that don’t qualify for the 75% subsidy can still access the 10% subsidy.
The subsidy has been further extended until the end of August for qualifying organizations.
WCB has announced deferrals of payments and deadlines in light of COVID-19, including:
- Deferring premium payments until the end of May.
- Late payment penalties waived until further notice.
- Extending the payroll reporting deadline without penalties until the end of May.
- Ensuring that coverage remains active for accounts that choose to defer payments until the end of May.
Extending the Work-Sharing Program
If you are already set up for a work-share program the maximum has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. In addition, the mandatory waiting period has also been waived so that employers with a recently expired agreement may immediately apply for a new agreement.
Work-Sharing (WS) is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.
This program has now also been extended to allow Government Business Enterprises and not-for-profit employers experiencing a shortage of work due to a reduction of business activity and/or reduction in revenue levels due to COVID-19.
In addition, streamlined measures undertaken by Service Canada will aim to reduce the processing time to 10 calendar days.
For any employees who will be applying for EI, some recent changes include:
- All in person Service Canada Centres are closed to the public, applications can be done online.
- The one-week waiting period for EI Sickness Benefits is waived.
Additional changes can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
This is a taxable benefit of $2000 per month for up to 4 months to workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support, workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, working parents who must stay home without pay for childcare reasons, workers still employed but not being paid, and self-employed and contract workers. More information is expected to come in early April, including an online portal application process.
Those who have already applied for EI benefits will be automatically enrolled in the CERB and do not need to reapply.
As of April 6th, the online application portal is up and running: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html
Record of Employment
If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE).
- When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.
- When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.
- When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary.
Federally Regulated Workplaces
There is a new leave related to COVID-19 for federally regulated workplaces. Employees working in a federally regulated workplace are entitled to up to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19.
Employees may take this leave if they are:
- being quarantined or asked to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19
- being required to provide care to a family member as a result of COVID-19, or
- otherwise unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19
Additional Government Support for Individuals and Businesses:
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
Other Links and Resources on COVID-19