What rights do working parents have to help child care, virtual learning during an epidemic?


Employment lawyers say that parents struggling to balance their jobs and child care needs during the Torrento – epidemic may be entitled to workplace accommodations with such flexible hours and times.

Simone Ostrovsky, an employment lawyer at Whites & Lublin in Toronto, says, “Employees generally have an obligation to accommodate childcare obligations of employees in the workplace.”

Federal and provincial law gives employees across the country the ability to seek accommodation and modifications based on their family status. Housing typically includes things like flexible working hours, alternate workdays and the ability to work from home, all of which can help parents whose children are receiving online education from home.

Ontario has extended school closures indefinitely, with Nova Scotia announcing that schools in the Halifax area will be closed this week and COVID-19 cases will increase. Alberta has also closed schools in high-case areas, including Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray. Schools located in the Quebec Metropolitan Community as well as other high-risk areas are closed until May 7.

“If a family has a new child, for example, or children, but even seniors or parents who need care, employees should ask their employers for housing within a certain range Has the right to do what they can and cannot do, ”, an employment lawyer in Toronto and owner of Achker Law. “That can be in the form of starting later, starting earlier, working at different times like Saturday and Sunday, different types of accommodation they ask for, but then within a range.”

It is the responsibility of both the employee and the employer to ensure that the accommodations are fair and equitable based on the employee’s family circumstances.

“As long as the employee can still perform the main duties of the job, but they simply need some accommodation, say for the time being, the employer must work with them to provide it,” Ostrovsky said.

“Employees may not necessarily emphasize a particular type of housing. They may make their requirements and limitations known but it is ultimately employers and employees who are going to decide together what a suitable accommodation is.”

Employees also have the ability to request temporary leaves based on family status. However, the type of leave they are granted and paid or not depends on their employer.

In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, several provinces have implemented emergency leave orders for better support staff dealing with COVID-19 related issues. To date, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador have all issued COVID-9 related unpaid emergency leave programs that allow employees to support families and children in case of school closures or illness Allow to take leave for.

In Ontario, Infectious disease emergency leave Outlines emergency leave standards for employees who need time off due to an epidemic.

However, temporary leaves are not always a beneficial decision for employees, as they are unpaid and can potentially drive an employee away from the workplace.

“Apparently whenever an employee is away from a workplace, it potentially puts them in a vulnerable position,” says Ostrovsky. “That’s why we have [legal] Security. We say that an employee cannot be punished because they have taken one of these protected leaves, but we believe that we need that legal protection because someone who is not in the workplace and who is on leave Is, often the risk of termination or happening is more avoidance of workplace decisions. “

Employees who find their employer reluctant to live on the basis of their family status can contact an employment lawyer, the Ministry of Labor, or file a complaint under human rights law in their province or human rights law.

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