The province of Alberta and the Canadian Government have taken some actions over the last short while to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support employees and employers alike through these difficult times. We know your employees and your business sustainability are both important to you, and there are some options available that can help lessen the load:
For those of you with the ability to sustain your operations using a remote work strategy, this is a viable option to keep operations going.
Questions you might have: Do I need a work-from-home plan and policy? How do I maintain culture and engagement with the team?
Please contact us anytime for a free consultation on how to manage policies and expectations around working from home.
There are some grants that you might be eligible for such as the Alberta Job Grant, R&D and Innovation grants (Canada), Special R&D tax credits, Student grants, Health Care Policy programs, small business funding, etc. This can help with leveraging staff for projects that have not been a high priority but may keep your team working until the business world catches up – and may be a chance to update your offering for when your clients are ready to return.
Questions you might have: What grants am I eligible for? What might be some work I could do now that could help me later on?
If there are reductions to your team needed, whether as a direct or indirect result of illness or through temporary layoffs, there are some very new developments:
The Federal Government has introduced an Emergency Care Benefit (CERB) of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave. This measure could provide up to $10 billion to Canadians, and includes:
Workers, including the self-employed, who are sick, quarantined, or who have been directed to self-isolate but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent or other dependents who are sick, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
EI-eligible and non EI-eligible working parents who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures.
More information about EI and CERB is available in our resource section here.
The Alberta Government has approved job protected leave of up to 14 days for self-isolation, or for those who are the sole care-giver for a dependent who must self-isolate, and who are not eligible for EI. A one-time payment of $1,146 will be distributed to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April. We expect the program to be available through a simple online application next week and that funds will be deposited in the accounts of eligible recipients beginning at that time.
Current EI rules have relaxed for employees who are sick, on imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate – Service Canada is waiving the waiting period for those under quarantine; a doctors note may not be required. This will only apply to employees who need coverage under EI Sick Benefits. Information for employees who wish to apply can be found on our COVID-19 Resources page.
Service Canada is also relaxing the rules for Work-Sharing programs. This is a scenario where overall work is reduced, but employees share what work is available to reduce the burden on individual employees and can receive income support for a temporarily reduced work week . These measures allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:
extend Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks (up to 76 weeks total)
wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
ease the recovery plan requirements
You can find an overview of eligibility for this program on our COVID-19 Resources page
If you are considering temporary layoffs due to a reduction of business, or full/partial closure – these can be considered under ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and a notice period (usually required by Employment Standards) will not be necessary. You can still provide notice if your business is able. Employees will have a 1 week waiting period under EI Benefits but will be able to apply and receive benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Over the next several weeks we will be posting a series of supportive tools and resources designed to assist small businesses during this time. We can help you with any questions you might have, and getting yourself organized in this time of uncertainty.
If you have any questions, contact us anytime for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES WCB Alberta Premium Relief for 2020