Posted on March 17th, 2020 in Human Resources Advisory

COVID-19: Best HR Practices

Books sitting on a table beside a pencil container

There is a lot of information circulating regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In this time of uncertainty, we want to ensure you have the most accurate and up to date best HR practices.

Consider the following:

  • Consider the information you are sharing with your employees, and ensure that it is from reputable sources. This will help to ensure that they are kept abreast of the most recent public health guidelines. Some suggested sources include:
  • Review your current Sick Leave policy, Attendance Management policy, and Work from Home policy. You may consider making temporary revisions and updates to these, ensuring they are up to date, and reflect the expectations and needs of your employees and your business during this time.
  • If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), remind and encourage employees to access this if needed.
  • You may have some employees who will be eligible for a job-protected Sick Leave or EI payments. If there is an employee who may be eligible, they should call Service Canada (1.800,206,7218) to receive more information on their current status and eligibility.
  • Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), you do not need to provide employees with any notice or reason for layoffs. It is important to remember that there are implications around temporary layoffs, and they cannot be longer than 13 weeks in a period of 20 consecutive weeks. Again, employees should be encouraged to call Service Canada (1.800.206.7218) to receive more information on their current status and eligibility. There is also a COVID-19 related toll-free number and employees should be encouraged to call this number with any concerns or questions: 1.833.381.2725.
  • If you do have an employee returning to work after receiving a positive test for COVID-19, this employee must provide proof of a negative test for COVID-19 by way of a medical practitioner’s note that states they are clear to return to work.
  • Any employee who submits a Work Refusal under the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) must follow the same process as any other work refusal as defined under Section 43 of the OHSA.
  • The Ontario Government announced that they intend to introduce legislation that, if passed, would immediately provide job protection for employees unable to work for the following reasons:
    • The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
    • The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
    • The employee is in isolation or quarantine.
    • The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
    • The employer directs the employee not to work.
    • The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams made a statement asking all employers in Ontario to facilitate virtual work arrangements to enable employees to work from home where possible to enable workers to limit their activities, care for children, and to self-isolate. He did recognize however, that there are a number of workplaces where this is not possible. In these cases, those employers are asked to use their judgement to sustain operations in a manner that maintains social distancing.

If you require assistance with any of your existing or temporary policies, or if you have questions related to the information above, please contact a DJB HR professional.

More articles related to COVID-19: Business Resource Centre