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May 6, 2020
Advantage Prevention Claims Management Inc.
How seriously are you taking it?
DO NOT BECOME COMPLACENT!
It is not going away anytime soon; we need to continue to be diligent.
Think what if,
The door handle,
The elevator button,
The food cart,
The person coughing into the air,
The handrail we hold,
The objects we and others pick-up, think about it, if you touched one of those things while you were out and about either working or shopping.
- Think about when you leave your home to get supplies
- Do I have my PPE on, gloves, respirator and yes even safety glasses!
- When you return and are about to open the car, van, house, apartment and condo door
- Then how do I take off my PPE without contaminating myself and others
- Do I have a bag or container for my clothes?
- Did I clean the shoes I had on? Did I step in spit or some other contaminant?
- Someone had spit on the ground and I unconsciously stepped in it, possibly bringing the bacteria into my home
- Are you keeping back 2 metres or 6'.5" "minimum" distance?
- When going for a walk and see another person walking towards you, do you wait for them to move over or do you proactively step to one side, let them pass mutually distancing?
- When shopping do you maintain the physical distance, following floor markings and shopping alone?
- Do you respect others and if you have to turn around walk the few steps further to the next floor marking/arrows and maintain distance?
- Do you understand the person you squeeze/walk past could be a COVID-19 carrier?
- Do not be a COVID-19 Naysayers, we do not have a vaccine to protect ourselves.
Think about it like tis, in 2018 Ontario had 1,250 deaths from the flu and Canada average was 8,400 deaths.
So today how many people have we lost to this terrible disease? In Ontario, the first month March/April, we had roughly 650 deaths, in Canada 2,000 deaths, so you do the math!
Think about those numbers we just provided and remember we have vaccines for the flu and have still lost thousands of people.
Let us all do our part:
1) Stay at home, only go out for what you need like groceries, medication, or medical appointments.
2) Avoid crowded places and non-essential gatherings
3) Maintain physical distancing, 2 metres, 6’.5” but remember the government/health officials are saying this is a minimum!
4) Wash hands regularly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds, use alcohol-based sanitizers if no water available.
5) If you feel you are about to cough or sneeze, do it into a folded elbow or tissue.
6) When you get home, change your clothes before walking about in your home.
7) If you have a mask, wear it but cover both nose and mouth.Finally,
TAKE COVID-19 SERIOUSLY, follow the rules, if we do not you could be the next COVID-19 case!
Currently health experts have said it will take 18 to 24 months for a vaccination. We have many viruses that there is no vaccination, COVID-19 could be one of those!
April 27, 2020
PREGNANCY DURING COVID-19
COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how if affects pregnancy, childbirth and newborns. Currently there is:
- no evidence pregnant women are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19
- no evidence a developing child could be negatively affected by COVID-19
- no evidence mother-to-child transmission of COVID-19 occurs through childbirth
- no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 is found in breast milk.
Throughout pregnancy, women experience changes in their bodies that may increase the risk of other illnesses, such as viral respiratory infections. This is why it is important for pregnant women, especially those at high risk of developing severe complications, should take the following precautions to protect against the possibility of becoming ill.
- Stay home as much as possible, except for important medical appointments.
- Talk to your doctor, obstetrician or midwife about the possibility of telephone or videoconference appointments.
- Avoid unnecessary visitors to your home.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Practice physical distancing. Keep a distance of at least two metres from others.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Avoid crowded places and peak-hours. Make limited trips to the store for essentials
- Avoid travel by public transit.
Visitors should be restricted or avoided during the period of physical distancing. You do not want anyone to inadvertently expose yourself or anyone in your household to the virus.
April 13, 2020
Working from Home due to the COVID-19 Pandemic – Ergonomics Principles
Many people are now being asked to perform work duties from home due to the pandemic. This includes both employees who are used to working at home and have a dedicated home office, as well as employees who have never worked from home and lack a dedicated space.
This is a perfect time to review some key ergonomics principles to help ensure that you can work from home in a safe and productive manner and do not get a sore back due to poor working conditions. You do not want to have to visit a doctor for a musculoskeletal disorder that could have been prevented by implementing the following workstation set up guidelines.
1. Select an appropriate work location
If you don’t have a dedicated home office, how do you pick the best working spot? Consider picking a spot with a table or work surface that is 27 – 29” high. Any higher, and you may find an increase in shoulder and neck discomfort that comes from working on a work surface that is too high. It is also worth considering where in your home you can concentrate without too many distractions if you are also supervising children while you attempt to get your work done. Try creating a daily schedule for your children to follow and schedule their daily dose of TV and movies during the time when you are most productive or have the most critical work/meetings to complete.
2. Select the best chair available
In an ideal world, this means a fully adjustable office chair that you can adjust to your stature and that allows you to vary your posture during the day. If you don’t own an adjustable office chair, take stock of your kitchen, dining room, and other chairs and pick a chair that provides back support, allowing you to sit upright (hip to back angle of 90-110 degrees) with your upper body weight supported on the backrest. If your chairs have slightly different seat heights, pick the chair that, when you sit on it, places your seated elbow height, consider tilting your keyboard slightly (using the feet on the back of the keyboard) to promote straighter wrist posture. Keep in mind, that the less “ideal” your seating, the more often you need to get up and move around. Take micro breaks stretching arms and legs by taking a few walks throughout the home if possible.
3. Find a footrest (if needed)
Once you are seated, take a look at your thighs. They should be parallel with the floor, with your feet firmly planted. If you are of average stature or shorter, there is a good chance that you would benefit from use of a footrest. A stack of legal-sized copy paper, or a large flat book are options you can use while working at home if you do not have a footrest.
4. Use external devices
The CSA Z412-17 Office Ergonomics Application Standard for Workplace Ergonomics states that laptops should not be used for prolonged computer entry, unless that are docked or connected to external input devices. Working directly off your laptop results in a monitor height that is too low and increased strain on the neck. The only exception to this is for bifocal lens wearers who view the screen through the bottom portion of their lenses and find a low monitor much easier to see. For those who do not wear glasses, or whose lenses are a single prescription, raise your laptop on a stack of books so the top of the screen is close to being level with your eye height, using an external mouse rather than the laptop key pad one. Make sure the books used are large enough, so the laptop does not tilt or move while keying.
5. Stretch and walk around
Ensure that you are getting up from your desk every 30-60 minutes to stretch and walk around. The less “ideal” your workstation set up, the more often you should be getting up and changing postures. Consider whether you can stand and pace around your space while on telephone conferences. You could also place your laptop on a kitchen counter or on top of a filing cabinet to create a standing height workstation for short periods of time. You can even invert a baking pan or use your butcher block cutting board to raise the height of the counter slightly. The goal is to position the keyboard as close to standing elbow height as possible, nut for shorter periods of 15-20 minutes, the height does not need to be perfect.
6. Protect your mental health
Working from home could make you feel isolated, especially if you are used to being in an office surrounded by your peers. Make a point to keep in touch with your colleagues by telephone for complex issues, rather than starting up a long chain of email, and consider video conferencing options as well. Finally, don’t forget to get out for a daily walk to ensure you have a reason to get dressed and get some fresh air every day. Think of your “coffee break” as your walk break.
From your friends at APCM
Remember an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure!
April 9, 2020
How to care for a person with COVID-19 at home – Advice for caregivers
If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.
· Only one healthy person should provide care.
· Do not share personal items with the ill person, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.
· Use a separate bathroom from the ill person if possible.
o If not possible, the ill person should put the toilet lid down before flushing.
· If possible, people who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 should not care for someone with COVID-19.
o These people include elderly persons, those with chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart disease, diabetes) or compromised immune systems.
· If you need to be within 2 metres of the ill person, wear a face mask, disposable gloves and eye protection.
· Wear disposable gloves when touching the ill person, their environment and soiled items or surfaces.
· Do not re-use face masks or gloves.
· Clean your hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially after contact with the ill person and after removing gloves, face masks and eye protection.
· Dry your hands with disposable paper towels.
o If not available, use a reusable towel and replace it when it becomes wet.
· You can also remove dirt with a wet wipe and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Keep your environment clean
· Place used face masks, gloves and other contaminated items in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose of them with other household waste.
· Place possibly contaminated laundry into a container with a plastic liner and do not shake.
o Wash with regular laundry soap and hot water (60-90°C), and dry well.
o Clothing and linens belonging to the ill person can be washed with other laundry.
· At least once daily clean and disinfect surfaces that people touch often, such as toilets, laundry containers, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.
· Use only approved hard-surface disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms the disinfectant product is approved and safe for use in Canada.
· High-touch electronic devices (e.g., keyboards, touch screens) may be disinfected with 70% alcohol (e.g., alcohol prep wipes) at least daily.
· If approved hard surface disinfectants are not available, a diluted bleach solution can be prepared by following the instructions on the label, or in a ratio of:
o 5 millilitres (mL) of (5%) bleach per 250 mL of water
o 20 mL of (5%) bleach per litre of water
Monitor yourself for symptoms
· If you have always used the recommended precautions, then monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days following your last contact with the ill person.
· If you have had direct contact with body fluids of the ill person (e.g., were coughed or sneezed on when you weren’t wearing a mask), contact your local public authority for further instructions.
· If you develop symptoms, isolate yourself as quickly as possible and contact your local public health authority for further instructions.
Maintain these supplies
· Face masks (do not re-use)
· Eye protection (face shield or goggles) for use by caregiver
· Disposable gloves (do not re-use) for use by caregiver
· Disposable paper towels
· Waste container with plastic liner
· Over the counter medication to reduce fever (e.g., ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
· Running water
· Hand soap
· Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
· Dish soap
· Regular laundry soap
· Regular household cleaning products
· One-step cleaner/disinfectant
· Hard surface disinfectant, or if not available, concentrated (5%) liquid bleach and a separate container for dilution
· Alcohol prep wipes
We can all do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
April 8, 2020
HOW TO SHOP FOR GROCERIES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The Coronavirus pandemic has upended many aspects of daily life, including trips to the grocery store. What was previously a mundane task has turned into a nerve-wracking ordeal that brings with it a host of questions: Is the virus lurking on food packaging or produce? Should you wear a mask to the store?
Before we get to the details of grocery shopping, it's important to note that there's currently no evidence of the new coronavirus disease being transmitted through food.
As far as we know, the disease appears to be spread mainly from person-to-person through virus particles that are transmitted when someone coughs or sneezes. Contaminated objects may transmit the virus if someone touches that object, picking up virus particles from the surface, and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes, and some people may transmit the virus when they don't have symptoms.
To prevent those modes of transmission, many stores are taking special safety precautions in light of COVID-19, such as limiting the number of people allowed in the store at one time, disinfecting carts and frequently touched surfaces, and placing tape or markings on the floor to help with social distancing.
But there are still steps customers can take to reduce the spread of coronavirus and their risk of catching it at the store. Here's a guide to shopping during the pandemic:
- Limit your trips to the grocery store to once a week. Don't bring the whole family, its best to shop alone.
- Don’t go if you have symptoms: It’s very important not to go shopping if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19. If you need supplies, ask a friend or someone else to get them and leave them outside your home.
AT THE STORE
- Sanitize your hands often: Use hand sanitizer before entering the store and after leaving.
- If your store isn’t providing disinfecting wipes, bring you own wipes to use on carts, basket handles and card readers.
- Wear a mask: This recommendation is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from people who are infected but don’t realize it because they aren’t showing symptoms. Avoid adjusting or touching your mask.
- Practice physical distancing: You should maintain a distance of a t least 6 feet from others.
- Touch only what you buy: Try not to touch things unnecessarily.
- Wear gloves: Use disposable ones and discard them before you get into your car.
- Don’t touch your face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
WHEN YOU GET HOME
- Wash your hands: You should wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after handling food packaging.
- Sanitize: Wipe down any inedible containers (plastic packaging, cereal boxes) with a disinfectant wipe. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water, but definitely don’t use cleaning products on anything you will actually consume.
- After unpacking all of your groceries: Clean and disinfect your countertops with disinfecting wipes or bleach containing products. Wash your hands after handling food packaging.
- Wash reusable bags: If you use reusable grocery bags (although some stores have banned reusable shopping bags during the pandemic) you should wash them after a trip to the store, either by putting them in the laundry (for cloth bags) or using soap or other disinfectants for plastic bags.
March 26, 2020
How to stay safe and avoid coronavirus when out shopping in stores
Planning to brave the outside world to stock up on dwindling supplies? These are some steps you can take to limit your exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Social distancing: Take into account social distancing during your grocery run. As advised by government agencies, make sure to keep a physical distance of at least two metres between yourself and other customers. Better yet, pick an hour that’s less busy.
No handshaking or hugging: Resist the urge to greet friends or colleagues you might meet at the store by shaking hands or hugging. A wave and smile will do.
Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer are your friends: Use the wipes to clean grocery cart handles. Limit touching handrails, door handles and other surfaces – and clean your hands after.
Bring your own shopping bags: Avoid shopping cart and basket altogether and use your own bags – if possible.
Avoid touching your face: As suggested by health officials, at no time should you be touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, especially in public.
Don’t use cash: Coronavirus isn’t the only concern when it comes to handling paper money and coins. Use debit or credit cards where you can easily tap to pay.
Be kind to one another: This last tip is pretty much universal. Stay safe out there.
March 20, 2020
Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses
See the link below for the EI process. The best course of action would be to sign up for the regular benefits, reason being shortage of work.
EI Regular Benefits - Apply - Canada.ca
5. Apply. Please review the eligibility criteria before starting your application.. To find out if you are eligible to receive EI regular benefits, you must submit an application online. It will take about 60 minutes to complete the online application. The website takes you step by step through the application process, and provides detailed instructions on how to complete the form.
You will need your SIN number, and banking information (same as on a void cheque for direct deposit purposes). You can find it on your online banking settings. They will ask for your branch/transit number and account number. If you cannot find it or need help please call your bank to verify that you are inputting the correct information. If you do not provide direct deposit information then Service Canada will send you bi-weekly cheques by regular mail instead of electronic direct deposit.
Your record of employment will need to be sent to Service Canada as well. Please confirm with management if this has been done electronically or if workers will be provided with their own record of employment. If workers will be provided with their own record of employment they will have to send it to Service Canada themselves at the following address:
Service Canada Centre
P.O. Box 2602
Mississauga, Ontario L4T 0B1
To begin the application click on the link provided above, click "Apply" at the bottom of the page, and begin answering the questions. They are straight forward questions, you will be asked to provide your general personal information, SIN, workplace information (address, phone number), reason for collecting benefits (lay-off for shortage of work), and payment information (rate of pay and total amount on your paycheques before deductions, see pay stubs for this information), if you do not have your pay stubs, talk to management to get them as soon as possible, it is important to put in accurate amounts as they will use this number to determine how much EI you qualify for.
If you need assistance while filing the application you may call Service Canada to speak with a customer service representative at 1-800-206-7218.
After the application has been submitted, Service Canada will redirect you to the page on their website that states "after you have applied"
This page will tell you that you will be sent a 4-digit access code in the mail. This access code will be used to submit your bi-weekly reports. Your bi-weekly reports must be filled out in order to receive payment. Further instructions on how to fill out these reports will be sent to you via mail with the document that has your access code on it. They will provide you a link to the online EI reporting service and give a step by step instruction on how to fill out your report. Payment will be sent by either direct deposit or regular mail (whichever was chosen on the application) approximately 3 days after your bi-weekly report is submitted.
T4E statements will be sent by regular mail for tax purposes. Any other questions or concerns can be answered by the customer service representatives at the number above.
Please note that hours of operation for Service Canada are 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Monday - Friday. This is different than Service Ontario (please keep that in mind when calling and/or attending in person at various locations).
There is currently a high volume of EI applications being sent through right now on a daily basis, and the site may crash or not work from time to time during popular hours. You may also find a hard time getting a hold of customer service reps in the middle of the day.
If you need to call I would recommend calling first thing in the morning when they open to avoid delays. You may be stuck on hold for quite some time if calling in the afternoon.
Declaration of Emergency
The province has enacted a declaration of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public.
As a result, the following establishments are required to close immediately.
- all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout and food delivery
- all facilities providing indoor recreational programs
- all public libraries
- all private schools
- all licensed child care centres
- all movie cinemas
- all theatres, including those offering live performances of music, dance and other art forms
- all concert venues
Additionally, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship.
These orders will remain in place until March 31, 2020, when the province will reassess for an extension or end the closures.
March 16, 2020
Employer Obligations for COVID-19
The spread of coronavirus and global pandemic of COVID-19 have raised many legal issues potentially facing employers in today’s workplace.
Whether it be social distancing, calls to work from home, or a general fear that workers have in today’s changing environment, employers have a duty of care to their employees to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
We at Advantage Prevention Claims Management aim to provide employers with the knowledge they need to navigate the continually changing economic landscape surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic.
A pandemic is defined as the spread of a disease across multiple continents in a relatively short period of time.
As an employer, what do you need to know about dealing with a pandemic?
· Your obligation to maintain a reasonable duty of care to employees remains. This includes providing a safe and healthy working environment for all employees in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
· An employer should provide cleaning products such as disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, and anti-bacterial soaps, as well as respirators (masks) to ensure that workers are properly equipped to combat the spread of the virus.
· Employers should make sure that all employees are properly trained on techniques for hand washing and when, as well as how often, surfaces should be wiped down and cleaned.
· Workers also have an obligation to be vigilant and responsible. Workers should be washing their hands after coming into contact with hard surfaces where the virus can be active. Anyone who is feeling sick or develops symptoms needs to report to their manager on duty and leave the workplace immediately.
· Management should also be communicating with workers to see who may or may not be complying with the above actions
· If working from home can be accommodated, employers may want to consider this option for increased safety to workers
· If not, employers need to implement policies to ensure the cleanliness of the workplace is properly enforced and/or monitored to prevent the spread of the virus
CAN EMPLOYEES LEGALLY REFUSE TO WORK?
Employees do have the right to refuse work if they feel it is unsafe to do so. An employee is within their right if they think it is reasonable to avoid the workplace for the betterment of their health and safety.
The nature of this pandemic may not provide clear cut answers for anyone, as situations and information is constantly being updated and changed.
Employers who are facing the issue of employees refusing to come to work due to the pandemic need to consider the following:
· Is it reasonable to assume that a worker’s health and safety will be compromised by coming in to work?
· Can a worker be accommodated to work from home?
· Is there a work from home policy already in place and if so, how quickly can it be implemented?
Employers need to be aware of up to date information and keep their workers informed. Any refusals to come to work need to be met with caution and flexibility on the employer’s behalf during this confusing time.
If it is reasonable to assume that all precautions have been met and increased cleaning policies have been implemented, then an employer can still safely advise workers to come to work. Keeping workers minds at ease and providing a safer, cleaner environment will allow employees to feel calm and comfortable to come in.
ARE EMPLOYERS REQUIRED TO PAY EMPLOYEES WHO CONTRACT COVID-19 OR ARE IN QUARANTINE?
Employers are not required to pay employees who are off due to illness. Employees are entitled to a certain number of sick days per year based on the Employment Standards Act and other applicable legislation.
Human Rights legislation also states that employers cannot discriminate against employees for certain illnesses and require employers to accommodate employees with disability to the point of undue hardship.
Employers should keep up to date on changing provincial and federal government policies regarding this topic. Government may introduce new policies regarding work closures, quarantines, and worker pay, at a moments notice. It is important to keep up to date on what the government requires employers to do, as this can change day to day, even hour to hour, during this time of uncertainty.
CONTINUED SUPPORT AND UPDATES
Please continue to check our website for updates regarding how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic in your workplace. These situations are constantly changing, and different obligations may arise that were not in place days or hours prior.
Health and Safety is the most important thing when it comes to workers and everyone in a workplace for that matter.
Employers should be staying up to date on information in the news and any developments that arise.
Workers should be well equipped to combat the spread of the virus, and well informed of their rights. Everyone has a responsibility to keep the workplace clean and sanitary.
We are also aware that every situation is different, specific situations regarding worker refusals to come in to work and payment while off needs to be investigated and determined on a case by case basis.
The employer has an obligation to keep the workplace safe and healthy for the betterment of all workers.
Please contact our office at 905-891-3474 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org should there be any other questions or concerns regarding this pandemic and what employers need to be aware of.
March 9, 2020
Managing Coronavirus (COVID-19)
On December 31, 2019 undiagnosed cases of a viral pneumonia were reported from health authorities in Wuhan, China. It has since slowly started to spread around the world, Italy, Iran, USA and Canada to name a few.
Now is the time to prepare for COVID-19, taking simple precautions can make a big difference. Action now will help protect your business.
When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid falling on nearby desks, tables or telephones. Although there is little information on how it is spread, transmitted, how or when a person might infect others, even seeming healthy persons have it and can pass it along to others.
We recommend should you or a family member have travelled to China within the last 14 days it be reported to your employer. Remember, now is the time to act!
A simple low-cost way to prevent the spread of infections in your workplace such as colds, flu or stomach bugs and protection to customers, contractors and employees is to make sure your workplaces are cleaned and hygienic.
1. Surfaces such as desks and tables
2. Objects like telephones, keyboards, photo copiers, door handles and even pens need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly.
3. Shaking hands, hugs or close contact be stopped.
· Make sure staff who may be travelling to locations reporting COVID-19 are briefed by a qualified professional.
· While travelling, encourage employees to wash their hands regularly
· Stay back at least one metre away from people who are coughing or sneezing
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms range from mild flu like conditions such as:
· Difficulty breathing
Additionally, Novel Coronavirus can include serious conditions like pneumonia, kidney failure and in some cases even death!
Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health as well as others.
· Promote hand washing by employees, washing your hands with soap and water can kill the virus on your hands.
· Put hand sanitizing hand rub dispensers in places around the workplace and make sure they are refilled/replaced when empty.
· Sneeze or cough into your sleeve with a folded arm.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, use a Kleenex or disposable cloth
· Make sure staff, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.
· Washing you hands with soap and water can kill the virus on your hands.
· Ensure face masks and/or paper tissues are available and used by those who develop a runny nose or cough at work.
· Ensure proper bins that close are available to despise of items used.
What to do should you think you have the virus:
If you develop symptoms of the COVID-19 “Novel Coronavirus”, call Telehealth Ontario for medical advice at 1-866-797-0000 or contact the public health unit in your area. (health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/locations.aspx).
Be sure to mention your symptoms and your travel history including the countries you visited. If you need immediate attention, call 911 and inform them of your symptoms and your travel history.
August 8, 2018
Just a Phone Call Away – Changes Coming to Minimum Pay for On-Call Work
Unpredictable workflow can make scheduling a challenge. One common tool employers use to address this challenge is on-call staff: an employee remains available to be called in to work and must work if called.
The concept of on-call work is not itself problematic. Many jobs lend themselves to an on-call arrangement. Electricians, plumbers, IT professionals, doctors, and nurses are just a few examples.
However, while holding oneself on standby may not be particularly onerous it is, as the Supreme Court of Canada recently noted "a period of time during which the employer exercises a degree of control over the movements and activities of [an employee]. This exercise of control benefits the employer, who might otherwise have to employ [other employees] to work [after hours] to ensure a timely response to urgent [matters]". To address this, Bill 148 will amend the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 ("ESA") to require compensation for an on-call employee even if the employee is not called in to work.
Under the Bill 148 amendments an on-call employee will be entitled to a minimum of three hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate even if the employee isn’t called to work.
At present, the ESA does not require an employer to compensate an employee for time spent on-call unless that employee is called to work. However, where an employee regularly works more than three hours but is called in and works fewer than three hours the employee is entitled to a minimum of three hours of pay at minimum of three hours of pay at minimum wage or the employee’s regular wage, whichever is greater (the "three hour rule").
On January 1, 2019, the law will change bringing with it the potential to dramatically increase the cost of on-call work.
As of January 1, 2019, an employee will have the right to refuse a shift (or on-call period) where not previously scheduled and where the request is made fewer than 96 hours before the proposed start time. An employee will also be entitled to three hours of pay at the regular rate if an employee’s entire scheduled day of work (or scheduled on-call period) is cancelled within 48 hours of its intended start.
Under the Bill 148 amendments an on-call employee will be entitled to a minimum of three hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate even if the employee isn’t called to work. That is, where an employee is on-call and is not required to work, or is called in but works for fewer than three hours despite being available to work longer, the employee is entitled to at least three hours of pay. This revised three hour rule will apply once in every 24-hour period the employee is on call.
In addition, as of January 1, 2019, an employee will have the right to refuse a shift (or on-call period) where not previously scheduled and where the request is made fewer than 96 hours before the proposed start time. An employee will also be entitled to three hours of pay at the regular rate if an employee’s entire scheduled day of work (or scheduled on-call period) is cancelled within 48 hours of its intended start.
These laws will not apply as follows:
- Where the employer is unable to provide work for an employee due to an extraordinary cause beyond the employer’s control that results in a work stoppage (fire, storm, power failure, etc.), an employee will not be entitled to three hours’ pay where the employee works less than three hours, or where the employee has the day of work (or on-call period) cancelled with less than 48 hours’ notice.
- To an on-call shift where an employee is on-call to ensure the continued delivery of an essential public service and is not called into work.
- To a cancelled day of work (or on-call period) shift where an employee is on-call to ensure the continued delivery of an essential public service and is not called into work.
- To a cancelled day of work (or on-call period) where the nature of the work is weather-dependent and the employer cannot provide the work for weather-related reasons. Note: It remains to be seen whether this exemption will be applied liberally to an employer whose business is only indirectly impacted by weather (for example, a warehousing operation where the product does not arrive due to a storm).
- In addition, an employee will have no right to refuse to work or be on-call where the work deals with an emergency situation, remedies or reduces a threat to public safety, or is necessary to ensure the continued delivery of an essential public service (regardless of who delivers those services). Finally, Bill 148 recognizes collective agreement provisions may conflict with the scheduling provisions under the new legislation. Accordingly, any provision of a collective agreement in force as of January 1, 2019 that conflicts with the on-call pay entitlement, the right to refuse a shift or the right to cancel a scheduled day of work (or on call period), is grandfathered to the earlier of the expiry of the collective agreement or January 1, 2020. After January 1, 2020, all collective agreements in Ontario must comply with the requirements under Bill 148.
It remains to be seen whether Ontario’s new provincial government will seek to amend or repeal these scheduling changes. No mention was made during the election campaign, although rumours now swirl.
Tips for employers
Adapting to the scheduling changes under Bill 148 will require an honest look at your organization’s current practices and some strategic thinking about your operational needs. Ask yourself:
Is the work truly "on-call" or could it be scheduled inside regular business hours?
How far in advance do you reasonably know about your organization’s scheduling needs?
How frequently is an on-call employee actually called in to work?
When an employee is called in, does he/she work for at least three hours?
If you transition from on-call to scheduled shifts and the work volume is lower than anticipated, are there useful tasks an employee can do for at least three hours?
Would a voluntary call-in list work for your organization? In that case, an employee would not be required to hold him or herself available for work. If the employee is called and is not available to work, the employer would simply move to the next employee on the voluntary list.
It remains to be seen whether Ontario’s new provincial government will seek to amend or repeal these scheduling changes. No mention was made during the election campaign, although rumours now swirl. Unless and until we hear definitively, now is the time to begin preparing for the new scheduling laws.