As of March 3, 2020, the Canadian government has confirmed 33 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country: 20 cases in Ontario, 12 in British Columbia, and one in Quebec. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to assess the public health risk as low. Nevertheless, Canadian employers may want to ensure that the risk of exposure in the workplace is minimized. Here are some key questions for employers to consider.
In Canada, if an employer wishes to terminate an employee without cause, it must provide notice or pay in lieu thereof. In other words, unlike in the United States, Canada does not have employment at-will. American businesses operating in Canada may find that Canadian employees whose employment has been terminated without cause will be entitled to no less than one month per year of service if a judge is left to decide an employee’s severance package. For this reason, employment contracts—and, specifically, the termination clauses in those contracts—are essential to controlling severance costs in Canada.
The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) is a free-trade pact that was announced on November 30, 2018. This agreement changes the current rules governing North American trade contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Canadians are headed to the polls for a general election on October 21, 2019. As is the case with provincial elections, employers have certain obligations to permit employees who are qualified electors (Canadian citizens over the age of 18) to vote in federal elections. These obligations are not always understood, particularly by employees who may mistakenly believe they have a right to time off with pay even if their schedules permit them to vote without missing work.
Canadian employers subject to federal regulation will want to take note of changes to the Canada Labour Code that came into force on September 1, 2019. These reforms apply to a large number of minimum employment standards with vacation, breaks, leaves of absences, and predictive scheduling impacted, among others. As a result of the far-reaching nature of the changes, they will have a significant impact on federally regulated workplaces.