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FTR Now

On Friday, May 29, 2020, the Ontario government published a new regulation under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) that is intended to provide temporary relief from the ESA’s termination and severance provisions for employers whose operations have been shut down or otherwise curtailed by COVID-19 – O. Reg. 228/20, Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL Regulation).

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Ontario employers who are planning for an eventual return to work have been keeping a close eye on the province’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool (Tool). The Tool directs Ontarians to self-isolate in certain circumstances. This is important because it relates to employers’ Occupational Health and Safety Act duties and their duty to provide statutorily-protected leaves under the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

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As governments start lifting orders and directives made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (or similar legislation in other jurisdictions), it is understandable that employers and employees alike are anxious to return to their ‘pre-COVID-19 normal’. However, in order to ensure a successful return to work during the largest pandemic in modern history, it is crucial that employers turn their minds to the unique labour and employment issues created by COVID-19 and reopen with a solid return to work plan in place.

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As provinces begin to roll out reopening plans for non-essential businesses, the logistical challenges of implementing social distancing in some workplaces mean that many employees will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. As companies consider which employees will be asked to return to the workplace, and when, the legal considerations and risks associated with work from home arrangements should be taken into account.

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On May 14, 2020, the Ontario government announced that certain workplaces will be able to resume operations beginning May 19, 2020, signalling the start of Stage 1 of the second phase of the province’s reopening strategy, “A Framework for Reopening our Province” (Stage 1). The government also announced additional seasonal services and activities that may open May 16, 2020.

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Cloud E-mail Grievance Dismissed

· 4 min read

Arbitrator Etherington recently dismissed a grievance that challenged a university’s decision to provide its faculty with cloud-based e-mail service.

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In this FTR Now: Province allows businesses to reopen; Ontario announces workplace health and safety guidance; Ontario expands the list of essential workers eligible to receive free emergency child care; Further amendments to the Employment Insurance Act and New Canada Emergency Student Benefit; and more!