In a year of massive economic turmoil, career and employment advice became more important than ever to Globe readers. From layoffs to back-to-work policy, these were the top employment questions of the year. You can see all employment questions answered this year here.
My business is suffering due to coronavirus. What are the rules around temporarily laying off employees?
The question: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, my business can no longer provide work for a number of employees. Can I temporarily lay off these employees until my business recovers?
The question: I recently went on vacation to Mexico and, because of the coronavirus, my boss wants me to self-quarantine at home for two weeks as a precaution. My job can’t be completed remotely so they said I will not be paid during the quarantine period. Is this legal?
My boss insists we come to the office and doesn’t enforce mask use. Do we have the right to work from home?
The question: I work for a real estate investment firm, and it is absolutely not essential for my colleagues nor I to be in the office, but the owner of the company prefers we be there for his own socializing purposes. The office has provided hand sanitizer but otherwise does not enforce the use of masks or physical distancing. We still have plenty of crammed boardroom meetings. I’m in Ontario, so with the rollback to Stage 2, do we have the legal right to work from home? We are 100-per-cent equipped to do so and very much capable.
I’ve been asked to return to work but I’m afraid to do so. Can I still collect CERB in this situation?
The question: I am a server and the restaurant I used to work at has asked me to return to work but I don’t feel safe interacting so closely with customers. What rights do I have to still collect CERB in this situation? What responsibilities must be met by the restaurant? I want to work but I’m afraid to do so. The servers are also being asked to clean the bathrooms since the restaurant can’t afford to pay cleaners any more. Is this allowed?
The question: My department is split into two teams. I was transferred from one team to the other without notice and into a significantly different role, in which I have no interest. After some time, I asked the head of the department if I could move back into my previous role but his response was that I should look for another job. Is this legal?
The question: I was laid off because of COVID-19. I had a non-competition clause in my employment contract. My only employable skill is in this field. Does the non-compete still apply if I was laid off?
The question: I got a new supervisor last year and we have never gotten along. I feel like she has been trying to get me fired for months because I haven’t met certain targets. The business has been affected minimally by COVID-19 and I was the only one on my team that was laid off. They claim it was due to the pandemic, but I think they just used it as an excuse to get rid of me. What can I do?
The question: What happens if my employees try to take advantage of the CERB? Some of them are collecting more on CERB than their usual wage and I’m worried they’ll say they are feeling “a little under the weather” or that they have a headache until the CERB period is over. What rights does an employer have if they feel the employee is faking? When businesses are allowed to reopen, I’ll be implementing all the protocols for protecting my employees. So I just want to know what my rights are.
My manager recently asked everyone on our team if we’re interested in taking unpaid leave. Is this legal?
The question: My manager recently asked everyone on our team if we’re interested in taking unpaid leave. Is this legal? If I take a voluntary leave and then I get terminated, am I still entitled to the same amount of severance?
The question: I work in retail and my employer wants me to return to work now, but I am frightened to do so. What if I get COVID-19? Do I have to go back to work?
Have a question for our experts? Send an e-mail to NineToFive@globeandmail.com with ‘Nine to Five’ in the subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered.
Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.