On this page:
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- Work-Sharing Program
- Temporary Staff Layoffs
- Leaves & Benefits for Your Staff
- Additional Staffing & Labour Resources
A COVID-19 Policy for Your Property
The federal and provincial governments are working on financial programs to help businesses manage at this time. Information that is being released is preliminary and we are awaiting more details, including how hotels can access these programs.
We will update this list as more information comes available.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- A wage subsidy is available to existing, new, and non-arm’s length employees in order for companies to prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis (In the hotel industry, a non-arm’s length person could be an owner who is also an employee or a relative of an owner who is also an employee)
- This subsidy is up to a maximum of 75% of wages paid, to a maximum of $847 per week. We encourage you to follow the link below to familiarize yourself with the limits and exceptions for existing, new, and non-arm’s length employees
- Eligible employers include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities
- Eligible business must show that gross revenues have dropped by at least 30% in March, April, or May, when compared to the same month in 2019
- Backdated to March 15, 2020
- Program will be in place March 15-June 6, 2020 for wages paid during that period
- An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees (not accrued or future wages). All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered
- Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal; however, as of April 3, 2020, no details have been released regarding where to find the online portal and when the portal will open for application
- Those organizations that do not qualify for the 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% of remuneration paid from March 15 to before June 6, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer (Information still forthcoming about how subsidy will be administered in this case)
Work-Sharing (WS) Program
The WS Program is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers. This program can be very beneficial for employers.
The maximum duration of WS agreements have been extended from the current 38 weeks to 76 weeks, and the government has waived the mandatory waiting period between agreements.
- Employers must:
- be experiencing a recent decline in business activity of at least 10%, for example when directly or indirectly related to the impact of COVID-19
- demonstrate that the shortage of work is temporary, beyond your control and not a cyclical/recurring slowdown
- be a year-round business in Canada for at least two years
- be a private business, a publicly-held company, or a not-for-profit organization
- have at least two employees in the WS unit
- be willing to implement a recovery plan to support the ongoing operations and viability of the business, with the expectation that recovery may be achieved at the end of the work-sharing plan
- Employees must:
- be year-round core employees (part-time or full-time)
- be eligible for EI
- agree to a reduction in hours
- agree to be part of the WS program
- read the WS employer guide to ensure they can manage the program requirements
Items employers require for a WS application:
- Application for a Work-Sharing Agreement
- Work-Sharing Unit Attachment: Must be signed by each employee (for non-union agreements) or by a union representative
- Recovery Plan for Special Measures
- Sales and/or production figures for the last two years
For more information, call 1-800-367-5693 or contact the AHLA’s HR Program Manager, Iwinet Stewart, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780.423.9233.
Temporary Staff Layoffs
Employers in Alberta’s hotel industry recognize that their employees are their greatest asset. As a result of the rapidly evolving and cascading effects of COVID-19, hotels that employ hundreds of Albertans have been forced to reduce hours due to cancellations and lost business, with no indication of when this business will return.
- If your hotel has difficulty maintaining hours for staff, you can arrange for your employee to use any accrued but unused vacation time prior to laying the employee off, although you are not required to.
- Should you be forced to lay staff off, you are able to do so temporarily, according to the Government of Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. In Alberta, the maximum duration of a temporary layoff is 60 total days within a 120-day period.
- The notice must:
- be in writing,
- state that it is a temporary layoff notice and its effective date, and
- include sections 62-64 of the Code.
- When an employee has been temporarily laid off from their position, the employment relationship remains intact. As the employment relationship has not been terminated, the vacation pay standards outlined in Part 2, Division 6 in the Employment Standards Code continue to apply. An employer is not required to provide payment of any accrued vacation pay at the time of temporary layoff.
- If the employee does not use up their vacation prior to being laid off, and is not called back to work after the temporary layoff period, the employee’s employment is considered to be ended. All vacation pay, as well as the amount required for severance under Employment Standards, must be paid out to the employee. Please see sections 62-64 of the code for more details.
- The period of temporary layoff can be extended beyond 60 days if the employer makes regular payment to or on behalf of the employee, such as continuing to pay wages, employee pensions, or benefits, and the employee agrees to these payments in lieu of a firm limit of the length of the layoff. Termination pay is payable when payments in lieu cease.
- See a sample layoff letter that you can use (Word doc download)
Leaves & Benefits for Your Staff
- Employees in Alberta are entitled to certain job-protected leaves. It is up to the discretion of employers to offer additional leave over and above the legislated requirements.
- If an employee has been placed in quarantine for COVID-19 or is diagnosed with COVID-19, there is no obligation to continue an employee’s pay, unless a the employee has paid sick leave or any other workplace or collective agreement provision. However, the employee may be able to access short-term disability benefits, if available, or Employment Insurance.
- An employee may be eligible for sickness benefits if they are ill from COVID-19 or has been quarantined by Public Health officials. On March 11, 2020, the Federal Government announced that it will waive the one (1) week waiting period for employees eligible for EI sickness benefits or quarantine.
- An employer can implement a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUB Plan) to “top up” EI benefits if an employee is temporarily out of the workforce. Under a SUB Plan, an employer can top-up an employee’s EI benefits to a maximum of 95% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings. If the SUB Plan is implemented to “top up” regular benefits or sickness benefits, the SUB Plan must be registered with Service Canada.
A COVID-19 Policy for Your Property
A COVID-19 policy for your property should consider the following topics, at a minimum:
- How will the employer communicate with employees or other contractors?
- Does the employer have the information and technology required for efficient communication (e.g., mass text)?
- When must an employer report exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19?
- To whom must the employee report and how: HR, Public Health, etc. (See Protecting Guests & Staff for guidance about reporting)
- When, for how long, and to whom to report?
- Working from Home:
- Is this possible in certain positions? While front-line employees would not have this option, are there office roles that may have the ability to work from home?
- If not, what if anything can be put into place to facilitate this? Can this be done proactively?
- What are the expectations of an employee working from home?
- If an employee cannot work from home, what is the impact on the employee’s status in the workplace?
- Return to Work:
- When and how?
- Medical certification (will the employer pay for the certificate)?
- Business Travel:
- Reporting: when and to whom?
- Will there be no obligation to travel for business?
- What is “non-essential” travel?
- Personal Travel:
- Reporting: when and to whom?
- Travel to “affected areas”
- Pre-screening questions (can use Alberta Health Services’ poster of symptoms to assist with this)
- Privacy considerations
- Internal Reporting and No Reprisal:
- Encourage internal reporting and reinforce that there will be no reprisal for doing so.
Information adapted from:
Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta’s Employer Fact Sheet and the Hotel Association of Canada’s COVID-19 FAQ document (March 13, 2020) prepared by Sherrard Kuzz LLP, Employment & Labour Lawyers. This information is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice, nor does accessing this information create a lawyer-client relationship. Information about the law is checked for legal accuracy as at the date the presentation/article is prepared, but may become outdated as laws or policies change.
In the unfortunate event that you decide to close your property, the AHLA has prepared a Sample Property Closure Checklist (Word doc file download) to assist you.