Do I have to return to the office? Employment lawyer answers common COVID-19 questions

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As provinces begin the slow process of reopening their economies and people start returning to the workplace, questions abound about the rights of employees and responsibilities of employers in the aftermath of COVID-19.

The Canadian Press asked two employment lawyers, Adam Savaglio, a partner at Scarfone Hawkins LLP, and Lior Samfiru of Samfiru Tumarkin LLP to answer some oft-asked questions about the legalities of getting back to work.

Do employees have to go back to work if they’re asked to, or can they continue working remotely?

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Most employees will have to return to work if their employer is meeting all of the safety guidelines set out by the government, lawyers say. But they note there are some exceptions.

For instance, an employee who is the primary caregiver for a child and doesn’t have alternate care will be able to stay home from work and continue accepting government benefits without fear of losing their job, Savaglio said.

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And he said employees don’t have to accept working for fewer hours or less pay.

“Can the employer modify your hours like, hey, come back three days a week?

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