Gary Clarke and Patrick Essiminy discuss challenges in the workplace post-COVID-19 with Canadian HR Reporter

June 12, 2020

Gary Clarke and Patrick Essiminy, partners in the Employment & Labour Group, recently discussed with Canadian HR Reporter the challenges employers might face in the post-pandemic era.

The return to the workplace after the pandemic could be a “watershed moment”, according to Gary Clarke from our Calgary office. Post-COVID-19, employers will be faced with “heightened sensitivity with respect to workplace safety, especially until a vaccine is found”. While most will focus on practicing social distancing and ensuring workplaces are cleaner than ever, Gary adds that there might still be situations where employees do not feel safe going back to work, if they’re in a compromised class and worried about possibly catching the virus. “Employers may be faced with accommodation requests, where they’re going to need to consider individual circumstances when they’re returning employees to work. And they’re going to need to be sensitive to that because there’s a human rights analysis there as well”, he stated.

To address employees’ fears of going back to work, “it’s important for employers to provide education and communication as to the changes that are being made”, explained Patrick Essiminy from our Montréal office. According to Patrick, “once things have calmed down and people are coming back to work in a more permanent fashion, employees may be more inclined to call a health and safety inspector”. Employers should prioritize reviewing health and safety practices, including manuals, and put in place a specific policy to deal with the pandemic and review the physical organization of the workplace. Post-pandemic, employers should proactively communicate all these new practices to the workforce to “reassure them and to avoid the employees being afraid to come into work and to avoid the complaints to health and safety authorities.”V

Going forward, some employers who were reluctant to remote work might also be more open to employees continuing to work remotely. Some might even consider having employees alternate working from home or at the office, concluded Gary.

Read the full article here (behind paywall).