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The Government of Canada is controlling the entry of foreign workers to Canada to control the spread of COVID-19. The details of these restrictions are important because they have a direct impact on employees who are subject to layoffs or termination of employment. It will also have an impact on employers who are attempting to secure the services of foreign workers while working through the COVID-19 crisis.

Given this priority, the following are the top three (3) things employers should keep in mind when hiring foreign workers in the COVID-19 era:

1. A FOREIGN WORKER’S PERIOD OF EMPLOYMENT MUST INCLUDE A SELF-ISOLATION PERIOD

All employers of foreign workers arriving in Canada must ensure that the declared period of employment for their workers includes the mandated 14-day self-isolation period unless they are considered exempt for being deemed an essential worker and are not required to self-isolate.

The employer must comply with all laws and policies regarding the employer-employee relationship during the self-isolation period.

2. EMPLOYEES MUST BE PAID DURING THEIR SELF-ISOLATION PERIOD

All foreign workers must be provided with regular pay and benefits for the mandated 14-day self-isolation period.

More specifically, the employer must pay the foreign worker for a minimum of 30 hours per week, at the rate specified on the Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) or declared to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada if exempt from an LMIA.

The employer can withhold standard contract deductions including but not limited to employment insurance, housing, and transportation as per applicable program stream requirements, however, they cannot deduct any additional amounts due to the mandated 14-day self-isolation period.

3. EMPLOYERS HAVE ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES IN RELATION TO THEIR FOREIGN WORKERS DURING THEIR STAY IN CANADA

Employers are responsible for regularly monitoring the health of workers who are self-isolating or who become sick after the self-isolation period.

The Government of Canada strongly recommends that employers communicate remotely with workers daily via telephone, text message, or via email during the self-isolation period to ensure that they are not experiencing any symptoms.

If a worker becomes symptomatic at any point during or after the self-isolation period, the employer must immediately arrange for the worker to be self-isolated and contact local public health officials to make them aware. It is also recommended that the employer inform the appropriate consulate.

Employers must also ensure that all workers have the necessary tools and equipment required to practice good hygiene. This includes, but is not limited to, providing facilities with access to soap and warm water for handwashing or providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Finally, employers are expected to provide information about the current state of COVID-19 and surrounding policies to all workers either on or before their first day of self-isolation. This information should be provided in a language that the worker understands and can be provided in writing and/or verbally.

For further information on this or other matters relating to employment immigration, layoffs, wrongful dismissal, or otherwise, please contact Toronto immigration lawyers, Sultan Lawyers at mlahert@sultanlawyers.com or 416-214-5111.


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