CPHR CPD: 1.5
With COVID-19 appearing prominently in news headlines these days, both federal and provincial governments are encouraging preparedness. What is an employer’s responsibility to employees in the event of wide-scale infection? What steps can an employer take in advance to ensure preparedness? While specific guidelines and responsibilities exist for those working in health care, an employer in any industry can benefit from having a workplace pandemic plan in place.
In the event COVID-19 spreads widely within Canada, employers have the same legal duties under occupational health and safety, employment standards and human rights legislation as they would with any other illness impacting employees. One of the primary considerations will be whether employees can reasonably refuse to attend work for safety reasons if and when COVID19 is present in the workplace.
This session will provide an overview of the obligations employers will have in the event there is a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and will address the occupational health and safety; human rights; and employment related responsibilities employers should be aware of in the coming months. Importantly, this session will also feature important information on the medical aspects of COVID-19 from Dr. Brent Culligan. Dr. Culligan is a is a specialist in Internal Medicine at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.
In this session, participants will learn:
- The most up-to-date medical perspective on the origins and spread of COVID-19;
- The various ways in which employers can address the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, including restricting the activities of its employees;
- The circumstances in which an employer may prevent an employee from reporting to work;
- Whether an employer needs to accommodate lengthy absences from the workplace;
- When an employer should permit an employee to work from home;
- The circumstances in which an employee can refuse work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and
- What obligations an employer will have in the event it must close its business for a period of time.
About the Facilitator
Tara Erskine, QC is a partner in the Halifax office of Mathews Dinsdale & Clarke LLP. Working from the Halifax office, Tara provides strategic advice to employers across Canada and works as a partner with human resource professionals and in-house counsel.
A member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, the Law Society of Ontario and the Law Society of Alberta, Tara is a Certified Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) (formerly CHRP). She has completed negotiation training at Harvard Law School and the Canadian Mediation Institute. In 2003, she spearheaded the founding of the Canadian Association of Counsel of Employers (CACE) and was its first director. Tara served as a Commissioner (Part-time) of the Canadian Human Rights Commission from 2014 to 2017.
Tara was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2016. She has been recognized as a leader in Labour and Employment Law in Canada in Who’s Who Legal – Canada since 2017 and by Best Lawyers in Canada in the field of Labour and Employment Law.
Dr. Brent Culligan, FRCPC, is a specialist in Internal Medicine at the QEII Health Sciences Centre and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University. He received his medical degree from McMaster University and completed residencies in Family Medicine and Internal Medicine at Dalhousie University with fellowship training in Critical Care and Infectious Diseases. He has a diploma in Tropical Medicine from the Gorgas School of Tropical Medicine in Lima, Peru.
Kyle MacIsaac is a partner in a partner of Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP working out of its Halifax office. Kyle advises employers in all areas of workplace law. He understands the realities of business and the issues facing employers and provides timely and practical advice and solutions to his clients. Kyle represents provincially and federally regulated employers concerning both labour and employment matters, including those concerning human rights issues, employment standards and employment contracts, wrongful dismissal, occupational health and safety, union organizing, collective agreement interpretation, grievance handling, progressive discipline and investigations into employee misconduct. He has appeared before various courts and tribunals throughout Canada.
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