Employee Recall After COVID-19
posted in: COVID-19 + Employment
The Government of Alberta has developed a Relaunch Strategy to gradually reopen businesses and resume commercial activities. The Relaunch Strategy will slowly relax restrictions as we progress through a number of stages. Each stage is dependant on Alberta’s ability to keep infection numbers low and will be monitored through metrics such as the number of hospitalizations and Intensive Care Unit occupancy.
Alberta COVID-19 Relaunch Strategy and Employee Recall
With the Relaunch Strategy in its initial stages, companies are eager to resume business, and if you are an employer, you may be considering recalling employees from a temporary layoff. Before doing so, there are several important things to consider:
- Before recalling any employees, you must ensure that workplace conditions are safe. This may include arranging for thorough and regular cleaning of the work premises, accessible hand washing and sanitizing stations and accommodations for the recommended social distancing protocols. Pursuant to recent legislative amendments, employees remain entitled to unpaid leave to tend to family members under quarantine and children affected by the closures of schools or daycares. For the safety and protection of your employees and customers, an employee who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home.
- If you cannot or do not recall an employee their employment will terminate. You may terminate the employment provided that the termination is not due to a reason prohibited by legislation (such as the Alberta Human Rights Act), and you provide adequate notice of termination or pay the employee the appropriate amount of pay in lieu of notice. Each case will vary depending on the particular circumstances, and you will need to consider the legislative requirements, any employment agreements and the common law.
- COVID-19 has required all of us to adapt in various ways, and accordingly, circumstances in your business may have changed. If you anticipate significant changes to an employee’s duties, pay or hours of work, then you should be aware of the potential for constructive dismissal of that employee.
- The procedure for recalling employees on temporary layoff can vary. Section 64 of Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, provides a default framework for many employees. However, it is important to know that employment contracts may provide for a different process. Additionally, certain employees may be governed by other rules, such as those found in extra-provincial/federal legislation or collective bargaining agreements.
The information above provides a brief guideline on potential employee recall issues that business owners may have to address as Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy progresses. The information is not legal advice, and we recommend consulting your legal advisors for information that is specific to your situation.
Getting Alberta back to work will be a gradual process, but we are hopeful that this transition will be a smooth as possible. If you have any questions, we are happy to assist with the legal aspects of that transition. Call our office at 780-532-7771 for information on scheduling a consultation.