April 28th is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This year’s theme is the safety and health of young workers, and the end of child labour. As spring approaches, many Canadian teens and young adults are searching for summer or part-time jobs. Such jobs help our youth gain the skills, experience, and independence they need to transition into adulthood. But these workers - ages 15 to 24 - are more vulnerable than adults to the occupational health and safety risks that result in injury, illness, and even death.
To our clients, friends and colleagues:
The last few weeks have seen unprecedented developments and change. A few weeks ago, many of us were planning March Break and looking forward to spring with, of course, minor and professional hockey playoffs. Within the last few days, virtually all entertainment has been suspended (including Broadway and all major sports leagues), school breaks have been extended by weeks, most childcare programs and activities have been cancelled, and we are being encouraged to socially distance ourselves, self-isolate, and effectively limit the risk of spreading this new virus that is impacting us globally.
At the same time, we know that many of our clients are struggling with how to handle this novel situation and, in particular, what to do about staff who travel(led) or show symptoms of illness, as well as what to do if they decide to close their workplace and have some staff that can work from home but others (particularly in retail businesses) that cannot. Can you lay people off? If you instruct staff to stay home, do you have to pay them? If you are an employee, what are your rights if, for example, your hours are suddenly cut in half?
This is unprecedented, and any unprecedented situation results in questions and uncertainty. It can also result in risk and legal liability.
There are many questions, and the key is to have proper legal advice so that you can make an informed decision.
We are keeping on top of this fluid situation and will continue to provide you with information and advice, so please follow our blog and social media accounts.
Of course, as we always say, the information that we (and others) provide online is a useful tool but does not replace legal advice. We can help you work through your particular circumstances to develop the most appropriate and legally sound strategy. You do not want to make a bad situation worse by exposing yourself to legal liability or by allowing your employer to take advantage of the situation to breach your legal rights, so please contact us before you take any action or make any decisions. As we often say, “If you think you might need an employment lawyer, you probably do.“
Our Ongoing Operations
We are committed to helping current and new clients navigate this new and unexpected set of circumstances, and we will be available to respond to your questions and provide the advice you need.
In light of the recommendations from Health Canada, Public Health Ontario, and other experts, the team at Rudner Law will do our part to minimize risk of transmission. For the time being, all meetings will be done virtually unless there is a legitimate need for them to be in person.
We have a practice that is almost entirely paperless, and our cloud-based practice and document management solutions allows our team to work from anywhere. As a result, we will meet with you virtually using Google Meet, Zoom, or other remote meeting platforms. Google Meet is our preferred form of meeting and you can use it on any PC, tablet, or smartphone without the need to install any new software of apps.
If a video meeting is not necessary or possible, we can, of course, speak by phone, and we can always work with you via email.
We will provide you with the advice you need to address legal issues arising out of the COVID-19 Pandemic, whether you are an employer or an employee. We encourage you to look after what is most important: your health and that of your family.
More information from the World Health Organization: