Notice to Employers: Economic Recovery Benefits and New Protection for Employees in the Event of Absence Related to COVID-19

By Eliab Taïrou, from our Labour and Employment Law Group

October 2, 2020 — On October 1, 2020, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19 (Bill C-4 — formerly C-2) was passed by the House of Commons of Canada and now awaits Senate support and Royal Assent before coming into force.

This legislation comes following the expiry of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program and includes three financial support measures to assist workers as part of the country’s economic recovery:

  • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).

This memo is not intended to provide an in-depth analysis of these newly introduced benefits, but employers should, at the very least, be aware of the terms and conditions of the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

This benefit can be claimed by a worker for one of the following reasons:

  • The worker has contracted or might have contracted COVID-19;
  • The worker has underlying conditions, is undergoing treatments, or has contracted other illnesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19, or;
  • The worker has isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, or government or public health authority, for reasons related to COVID-19.

The worker must also certify in their application that for the given week, they were unable to perform their job for a minimum of 50% of the time that they would otherwise have worked, for one of the three reasons mentioned above.

This benefit will be in the amount of $500 per week and may be claimed for one or two weeks up until September 25, 2021.

The worker will be able to apply for this benefit from the Canada Revenue Agency through the online portal.

Other criteria are also set out in the Act, such as the requirement that the worker has not received paid leave from their employer for the week in question.

In parallel with the CRSB, any employer under provincial jurisdiction should be aware that an employee covered by the Act respecting labour standards benefits from new legislative protection related to COVID-19 that has been in force since September 10, 2020.

This protection provides that it is prohibited for an employer to dismiss, suspend, retaliate against, or impose any other sanction on an employee if the employee is absent from work for a maximum period of 14 continuous days and the absence results from the fact that the employee is isolated pursuant to a recommendation or order of a public health authority and is unable to work.

Briefly, and in a similar manner in part, employees under federal jurisdiction are entitled to a leave of absence related to COVID-19, which was amended by the Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19. This right to a leave of absence related to COVID-19 may be the subject of a complaint relating to reprisals in the event of dismissal, suspension or if the employee has been the subject of a disciplinary measure related to the exercise of their right to such leave.

For more information or for any questions related to these new economic recovery benefits or these new labour standards, please contact our Labour and Employment Law Group.

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