COVID-19

Along with other Ontario businesses, we are closely following the latest developments of COVID-19 both here in Canada and around the world. As a result, we have prepared this informational sheet for our clients.

While the risk to most individuals in Ontario remains low, going forward we may be told to take direction from the authorities including but not limited to the World Health Organization and the federal or provincial governments.

What you can do to protect yourself:

  • Continue to practice proper hygiene protocols by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Our office building at 1 Yonge Street is still open to the public. However, effectively immediately, In House Human Resources will be working remotely until further notice.

What that means to our clients:

We are committed to your health & safely and are taking necessary steps that are reasonable under the circumstances to protect your health and safety while we navigate this uncertain time. We are still available to our clients for any human resources or safety matters. In most if not all cases though, any potential meetings will be via electronic means.

If your business must remain open, here are some tips for how to handle business continuity while also keeping employees and customers safe.

Physical workplace:

  • Take precautionary measures and introduce bottles of hand sanitizers and Kleenex throughout the workplace for employee/customer use.
  • At least twice daily clean areas that are frequently used by employees/customers (door handles, faucets, tables, etc.
  • Speak to the property management company and ask that they also step up their cleaning of the common areas such as the bathrooms and elevators.
  • If possible, visitors to the workplace should be discouraged.

Employee procedures:

  • All non-essential business travel should be cancelled until further notice.
  • Employees should be encouraged to connect electronically or through other means.
  • Employees travelling over the coming months, should be required to report their personal travel plans to management prior to travelling.
  • Employees should be advised to avoid any skin to skin contact such as hand shaking, hugging, kissing, etc. with other employees. Employees should promote ‘social distancing’ from each other (1 metre apart if possible) or work from home/stay home.
  • Employees who attend the work place with flu like symptoms such as a fever or cough, should be isolated immediately from others, asked to leave and report (call) their condition to their physician and/or Ontario Health. If they have difficulty breathing, treat it as an emergency.
  • Employees who are being tested for COVID-19 must inform management.
  • Employees who are returning from illness will need to provide a ‘fit for duty’ letter from their physician before they can return to work.
  • Employees traveling from abroad should be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days before they are allowed to return to the workplace.
  • Employees who think that they have come into contact with an affected person (or if someone close to them has), need to inform management for guidance on the way forward.

Employee events:

Should be cancelled until further notice.

Discrimination:

Encourage your employees to be kind to their fellow employees. A reminder that the company is still very much following all other policies and procedures, including violence & harassment policies, should be issued. Make it clear, that under no circumstances will the company tolerate any discriminatory or anti-racial conversations in the workplace.

 Cyber risks:

There is an elevated risk of becoming a victim of phishing email attacks during this time. Remind employees to be careful to only check authentic websites for information.

Communication & information:

Keep the communication flowing to employees. This is a difficult time for all.

Reprisals:

Under no circumstances should an employee be disciplined or otherwise penalized for reporting an illness or a contact incident of COVID-19.

Leaves:

In the event an employee or a member of his or her family does contract Coronavirus, there are a number of unpaid leave entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) which may apply:

  • Family Medical Leave – up to 28 weeks in 52-week period where the employee is providing support to a family member suffering from a serious medical condition, who is at significant risk of death within 26 weeks
  • Family Caregiver Leave – up to eight weeks to care for or support a family member suffering from a serious illness
  • Critical Illness Leave – up to 37 weeks to provide care or support to a critically ill minor child or 17 weeks to provide care or support to a critically ill adult family member
  • Sick Leave – up to three days in each calendar year due to employee illness, injury or medical emergency
  • Declared Emergency Leave – where an employee will not be performing his or her duties as a result of an emergency declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act or other similar legislation

For more information contact:

The Government of Ontario

Public Health Ontario

World Health Organization