NEW: Waves of Change, as new policies and draft legislation is announced.
- EI claims – and the potential impact where employees refuse to comply with a COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: The Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada, provided recent guidance to employers, suggesting that employees who don’t report to work for reasons related to their refusal to comply with an employer’s mandatory COVID19 vaccination policy, may be denied their Employment Insurance (“EI”) claims, and that their Records of Employment (“ROE’s”) should be coded as ‘E’ (quit) or code ‘N’ (leave of absence).
- The Ministry says that employers may be contacted in order to confirm whether the ROE relates to an employee’s refusal to comply with a COVID19 vaccination policy. If it does, it will determine whether the policy has been applied reasonably, was clearly communicated, including the consequences for any non-compliance and if so, that an employee’s claim for EI may be denied – unless of course, the employee qualifies for an exemption, such as one that is protected under the Human Rights Code (“HRC”).
- Challenges? If this policy is implemented, it will be interesting to see whether it will become the kind of test case litigation that engages a challenge brought under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. More of this to follow.
NEW: Ontario Releases Long Term Plan to Safely Reopen
- The recent release of “A Plan to reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long Term” was recently announced and aims to alleviate the current COVID-19 protocols that are in place. Assuming that projected trends continue, this could happen by March 2022, meaning that it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear a mask or face covering, or to show proof of a vaccine in certain settings. This date will also mark the revocation of all Public Health Emergency Orders that are still in effect under the Reopening Ontario Act. The full plan can be accessed here - https://covid19.ontario.ca/plan-safely-reopenontario-and-manage-covid-19- long-term
NEW: Draft Bill 27 — Working for Workers Act, 2021
- Which has gone through its first reading and if ultimately passed, will require employers that employ 25 or more employees, to implement written policies, requiring employees to disconnect from work and limiting work-related communications after-hours. If passed, qualifying employers will have six (6) months to develop and implement these policies.
- Also, if passed, non-compete agreements will be prohibited and this prohibition will be incorporated into the Employment Standards Act, having the effect that any existing non-compete agreement becomes void, with the only exception being in instances where a business is sold and the seller is prevented from engaging in related activity or business for a period of time.
- The other changes that the Bill will introduce, if passed, include:
- A new requirement that will require business owners to permit delivery workers to use their washroom facilities, when making deliveries to or from the workplace – unless not reasonable or practical given the nature, type or conditions of the workplace;
- Removing and/or reducing barriers for internationally trained individuals to enter their regulated profession, where there has otherwise been a requirement or pre-requisite for Canadian work experience; and
- Requiring recruitment and temporary help agencies to become licensed in order to operate in the province, which is aimed at avoiding exploitation of vulnerable employees.
- Currently, these proposed changes are being debated, and we will follow with further updates as soon as these are made known.
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