Not sure if you have to go to work? Know your legal rights

Not sure if you have to go to work? Know your legal rights

In this time of crisis, Prime Minister Trudeau has asked that all employees who are able to work from home do so. Yet, for several essential service positions, such as frontline healthcare deliverers and construction workers, phoning it in isn’t an option.


You might be worried that going into work could expose you to the COVID-19 virus. That’s a legitimate concern.


Are you wondering about your options if ordered by the employer to show up? We’ve done some digging to provide some answers. 

 

Can My Employer Make Me Come To Work If I’m Well?

You’d think employers couldn’t forcibly expose staff to virus contagion. After all, companies in Canada have to give workers a safe workplace in compliance with occupational health and safety legislation. 

Plus, most employers are bending backward to help people work remotely. But there’s no law that compels them to do so. Unless that workplace poses a danger, its employees’ health and safety, if it does, there’s a risk of catching COVID-19. 

Huh? 

The short answer is that there’s no definite answer to this so far. The rules are being re-written during the crisis.

 

What Is My Right To Work From Home?

Our governments have advised businesses to be flexible and let employees work remotely if they can. So you could explain your concern about getting infected and ask to work from home. Put it in writing, then send it to the boss for the record.

If the employer says yes, you should continue to be paid at your current rate. If they turn down your request? Here’s where matters could get messy.

Assume the company’s taking all reasonable precautions and is following the government’s protocols. Typically you’d be legally required to attend. If you didn’t, the company could possibly claim you’ve quit.

During the epidemic, though, you might ask the company (in writing) to lay you off temporarily. This may qualify you for  Employment Insurance and other provisional subsidies

 

Could I Be Fired For Refusing To Come In?

You shouldn’t be penalized for exercising your right to refuse dangerous work. In the private sector, you could be terminated pretty much anytime, without explanation. The employer just had to pay you at least the legal minimum severance. 

New legislation has emerged that may protect your job, Check your provincial government labour ministry for their leave updates. See if you qualify based on your obligations. These include having to look after school-age kids, elderly parents or a sick partner. Self-isolation is covered too for the first time. Then there’s the option of taking compassionate care leave. 

 

How Can I Stay Informed About My Employment Rights And Duties?

In any public health crisis, it’s critical to know your workplace rights. You’ll want to protect your legal entitlements as the rules shift.

Stay in the loop. Check Monster often for our pool of articles on your employee rights and duties. Meanwhile, we wish you and yours a safe career continuation.   

Legal Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not be used as legal advice. Please consult an employment law specialist for specific counsel.