<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >COVID-19 Employment Considerations: Now and Later</span>

Since the pandemic started several months ago, you’ve no doubt faced your share of challenges, which may have included cutting hours, laying off employees, and otherwise cutting payroll costs just to stay afloat. While you’ve managed to survive this far, these types of difficult decisions aren’t easy to make. Further, you know that these are not only challenging times for your business but also for your employees. Delicately balancing your need to cut payroll costs with your responsibility to do right by your loyal employees will help you come out of the pandemic even stronger. 


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The right balance will protect not only your profits but your company brand and employer brand as well. Understanding relevant employment considerations, like the ones below, can help you maintain your position during and post-COVID.


Understand the Legal Right to Layoffs to Reduce Risk

Many business owners do not realize that temporary lay-offs are only legal when there is a written collective bargaining agreement or employment contract in place that allows for them. If these criteria are not met and you attempt to temporarily lay off an employee, you could face a constructive dismissal claim for severance/termination pay. Further, notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice must also be provided for permanent layoffs. 


Do Your Best to Keep Key Employees on Payroll

When your revenue drops to zero or near-zero, it can be tempting to lay off most or all employees to survive. However, when it comes to some key employees, it may be better to avoid the short-term mentality and think about the near future when your business can open back up again. After all, you don’t want to lose your vital and best employees, who may find new work while laid off. You want certain employees ready and able to work the moment business re-starts to prevent disruptions. Identify your most vital employees and try to find a way to keep them on payroll. 


Prioritize Your Employees’ Health and Safety

If you’re still operating to some degree with employees in the workplace, those who are in contact with other employees and the public are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. They likely have health and safety concerns regarding the workplace. Taking these concerns seriously and taking the steps necessary to keep your employees safe at work will not only prevent labour inspection orders and fines but also improve morale and loyalty. 


Provide Job-Protected Sick Leave and Accommodations

Employees are already risking their health to remain employed. They shouldn’t have to worry about losing their income should they become sick or have to take time off to provide for an ill family member. It’s important to note that employees who must quarantine after contracting COVID-19 are protected by human rights and employment legislation. Providing job-protected sick leave is mandatory. 


Taking this a step further however, many employees are generating good will by also providing workplace accommodations for employees who need to take care of an ill family member. This can include flexible schedules, remote work, or unpaid leaves of absence. 


How well you treat your employees can make or break your business during challenging times like this pandemic. While it may seem prudent to focus solely on cash preservation, loyal and happy employees are what will help you come out stronger in the future.