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COVID-19 Updates | Weekly Workplace Recap from October 16 to October 22, 2020

COVID-19 Resources for Small Business

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Below are the key announcements from the Federal, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta governments that touch on workplace issues from October 16 to October 22, 2020.


$12 Million Invested in the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund

The Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade has announced an investment of $12 million in the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund.

Canada United is a national fundraising campaign created by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in collaboration with private sector partners and provincial and territorial chambers of commerce, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). 

The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, which is managed by the OCC, is supporting Canadian businesses across different sectors and industries with grants of up to $5,000.

These grants will help thousands of small business owners enhance their digital or e-commerce capabilities, cover the costs of personal protective equipment, and make physical modifications to their businesses to meet local health and safety requirements.

For more information, check out this news release


Ontario Plans to Protect Employers & Workers from COVID-related Liability Claims

The Ontario government introduced Bill 218, Supporting Ontario's Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020, that if passed, will provide liability protection to employers and workers who are making “honest efforts” to follow public health guidelines and laws meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Bill 218 has passed its first reading and will continue to be debated in the Ontario Provincial Legislature this week. Once approved, the law will provide targeted protection to:

  • Health-care workers and institutions

  • Frontline workers who serve the public everywhere from grocery stores to restaurants and retail stores

  • Businesses and their employees

  • Charities and non-profit organizations

  • Coaches, volunteers and minor sports associations

For more information, check out this news release. 


Manitoba Reintroduces 33 Bills with Plans to Amend Labour & Employment Laws

The Manitoba Government has recently introduced a number of Bills in the Legislature that will see amendments to existing Labour and Employment rules in the province.

Of the 33 Bills tabled by the Government on October 14, 2020, some of the most significant bills include:

The most significant change comes with Bill 16, the Labour Relations Amendment Act, which was beefed up considerably from its previous iteration. Most notably is the introduction of a clause that would allow an employer to terminate an employee for just cause based on strike-related misconduct, even if the employee has not been convicted of a criminal offence. 

For more information, check out this news release


Changes to Employment Standards Code Effective November 1

On July 29, 2020, Bill 32, the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, received royal assent. Bill 32 makes a number of changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code.

The following changes to the Code will take effect November 1, 2020:

Final Pay

Employers can pay employees their final pay no later than:

  • 10 consecutive days after the end of the pay period in which they were terminated, or
  • 31 consecutive days after the last day of employment

These changes will better align with pay cycles. Previously, employees got their final pay within 3 or 10 days after the last day of employment.  

Holiday Pay Calculation

Previously, the general holiday pay in Alberta was worked out by calculating the average daily wage. The average daily wage is 5% of the worker’s wages + general holiday pay + vacation pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday.

With the new rules, employers will not need include vacation pay and general holiday pay in the average daily wage calculation. . The employee’s average daily wage would be total wages averaged over the number of days they worked in the:

  • 4 weeks immediately before the general holiday, or
  • 4 weeks ending on the last day of the pay period that occurred just before the general holiday.

Correcting Overpayment

Employers no longer need written permission from the employee to deduct an overpayment due to a payroll error or for vacation pay paid in advance. However, employers must still inform employees that overpayments will be deducted from their pay checks.

Hours of Work

New rules regarding hours of work include:

  • Employers can start or change an hours of work averaging arrangement by giving employees 2 weeks’ notice, rather than getting employees’ consent first.
  • Arrangements could have an averaging period of up to 52 weeks.
  • Arrangements will no longer need to have an end date.
  • Employers can negotiate with employees how to handle schedule changes or missed shifts but employees must get 8 hours of rest between shifts if there is a schedule change.
  • Employers do not have to provide daily overtime, unless daily overtime is included as part of the arrangement.
  • Weekly overtime threshold applies, regardless whether daily overtime is included in the arrangement or not.

Rest Periods

Employers must provide at least 30 minutes of rest every 5 hours for shifts that are longer than 5 hours. The rest period can be within or immediately after the 5 hours of work, or at any time mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee.

Youth Employment

Employers can more easily hire 13 and 14-year-olds for certain types of jobs because they will not need to get a permit first. Types of jobs include light janitorial work in offices, coaching and tutoring. It also includes some jobs in the food services industry if the youth is working with someone 18 or older.

Administrative Penalties

Employers would still have to pay a penalty for breaking rules. However, the amount could be adjusted on a case-by-case basis with more time to submit the payment.

For more information, check out:

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Sarah Visca
Sarah Visca is the Operations Manager at ConnectsUs HR, a company that provides tools & resources to quickly set up a Human Resources department.  
You can contact her here