April 7, 2020

McLennan Ross Update for Tuesday

By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

What we are seeing

  • The criticism of the restrictions inserted into the Canada Emergency Response Benefit continue to increase. As we have noted previously, the rollout of the benefit by the Government of Canada led many people who were thought to be originally eligible for the benefit, such as students and persons looking for employment before the COVID-19 pandemic arose, to be exempted from the program. Concern has also arisen about the requirement that applicants receive no income whatsoever in order to be eligible, leaving some Canadians having to choose between accepting small jobs to receive immediate income and remaining entirely unemployed in order to remain qualified to receive the CERB. Employers with reduced operations therefore face the prospect of not being able to staff appropriately as employees choose the certainty of the CERB over the offer of immediate but non-guaranteed hours.   

What we are hearing

  • The response of employers to the temporary changes to the Employment Standards Code and Employment Standards Regulation has been generally positive, especially with respect to the ability of employers to react in real time to human resource issues arising from COVID-19. Again, our e-Alert summarizing these changes can be found here

What we are saying

  • We have discussed previously privacy considerations for employers when testing employees for possible COVID-19 infection. The article can be found here. A further consideration is maintaining the privacy of business documents containing personal information in the possession of or accessed by employees working from home. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta has issued points for consideration by employers in such circumstances: here. Although helpful to review in total, the sum of the advice appears to be that the rules which predated the pandemic continue to apply:
    • Only those employees who need access to such personal information should be permitted access;
    • The personal information can only be used for a legitimate business purposes; and
    • The personal information must remain secure at all times to ensure it is not reviewed or accessed by someone other than the employee in possession of the information. 
    • The McLennan Ross LLP Labour & Employment Group is presenting a webinar on April 9, 2020 on key issues for employers managing a virtual workplace. More information can be found here. One topic to be discussed will be privacy issues and remote workers.

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