re-opening business during COVID-19Many provinces across Canada have started the process of re-opening businesses. In Ontario, a select few seasonal businesses have been allowed to open this week with restrictions. These include seasonal businesses and some essential construction. Check out the Provincial News Release for the details. 

While the list is still very short, we can be sure that, eventually, society will be back up and running, but it may look a little different. 

Guidance from the Government

The Federal and Provincial governments have released an agreed-upon set of common principles to follow with respect to re-opening. The statement includes a commitment to support and monitor workplace protocols that are in place to keep Canadians safe at their jobs, and prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19.

Further to this, the Ontario government has released a very detailed resource on the protection of workers, customers and the public from COVID-19. The guidelines are sector-specific and include workplace posters.

The Ontario government also launched a website where businesses can request a temporary rule or regulation change to help “remove obstacles and streamline Ontario’s ability to respond to the outbreak.” 

Consideration For Employers

In addition to following any of the specific government guidelines noted in the links above, employers can start to think about some of the following:

  • Who’s going to be in charge? Consider establishing a working group to take charge of re-opening and becoming familiar with the government’s guidance. It’s a big job and should not be done ad hoc! 
  • What will you do if you have to scale back? Make sure your plan is fluid and considers things like another shutdown or scale back. 
  • Keeping workers safe should be a priority. Consider how to change the layout to allow for physical distancing, as well as if workers need to stagger hours or work in shifts. 
  • Communicate with workers, customers etc. Stakeholders should be kept in the loop. Employees should know what the plan is so that they feel safe returning to work.
  • Establish policies so that everyone in the workplace knows how to follow guidelines. 
  • Consider how to deal with workers who refuse to return to work, in spite of your planning. While these will likely all require a case by case analysis, it’s a good idea to turn your mind to the possibility that not all workers will comply with returning to work. 

For further information and resources on re-opening, we invite you to join us at our next free SpringForward webinar “Pivoting After Quarantine: Recalling, Restructuring & Rebuilding” on Wednesday, May 20th at 10:30 AM EST.

If you have questions about the legal impacts of COVID-19 on your business and workforce get in touch to schedule a consultation.