Loading articles...

Knowing your rights before returning to work during COVID-19 outbreak

Last Updated May 5, 2020 at 8:42 am MST

CALGARY (CityNews) – It may be back to business for some workers but many are concerned about conditions they’re returning to.

Many people have taken to social media to express their worries. One user on Reddit believes it’s too early to go back while others feel guilty their business might open prematurely, putting the community at risk.

Does anyone else feel bittersweet going back to work? from Calgary

While others are ready to get things going, there are a couple of things for employees and employers to keep in mind before they go back.

“The question is even if you can open should you reopen and should you put your staff in that position?”

Sarah Coderre is a managing lawyer in Calgary specializing in employment and labour law.

She said workers should expect their employers to follow at a bare minimum, the health and safety directives in Alberta and across Canada.

Even before businesses consider reopening, employees should know what’s being done to keep them safe when they return to work. Will it include masks, gloves and other proper protective gear?

“If an employee feels unsafe or anxious to go back to work, I would tell them to reach out to their employer, to their HR rep. Make sure you’re informed of what they’re doing. If you feel there are gaps in the new protocols speak out.”

RELATED: What will shopping look like during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There have been concerns for people with underlying health conditions or those who fall under a specific age demographic that could be at risk if they go back to work.

Coderre said employees should be given options if they can’t have a safe working environment. that could mean working in a separate part of the office, continuing to work from home or continuing on unpaid leave from work until it’s safe to return.

“Be really clear with the employer about your concerns. Discuss with your employer what plans they are making to try and deal with some of these risks. If you feel your employer is not taking the steps to mitigate these risks it could potentially be an OHS issue.”