Watch our latest video with Ascend Legal 101 where we discuss BC employment law in a changing world. With the COVID-19 pandemic still present, some people may be refusing to work due to concerns of unsafe work environments. Listen to our chat to learn more about this topic as well as our professional opinions on the matter.
The Workers Compensation Act provides workers with access to benefits for injuries or illnesses that they have suffered in the course of and arising out of their employment. In the right circumstances, a workplace condition can include an infectious disease such as COVID-19. The WorkSafeBC policy requires the individual to have part of their employment be a factor that increases the likelihood that they will become exposed to COVID-19. While this policy was likely drafted with hospital and medical staff in mind, it also likely includes grocery store clerks, pharmacy workers, truck drivers, and other essential workers.
The requirements for compensation under WorkSafeBC for COVID-19 are:
- Evidence that the worker has contracted COVID-19, either through a medical diagnosis in a medical report, or non-medical factual evidence where other evidence establishes the existence of COVID-19.
- The worker’s employment created a risk of contracting the disease significantly greater than the ordinary exposure risk of the public at large.
The law has a few legal mechanisms available to analyze how a global pandemic may impact contractual obligations between people in our society, and we will address two in this blog post.
The first is found in many commercial contracts. These contracts often contain clauses that address events that are beyond the contracting-parties’ control, which are often referred to as “force majeure” clauses.
The second is a common law doctrine that is often applied to contracts, including employment contract, that fail to have specific clauses. This doctrine is called the law of frustration.
A recent case from the BC Supreme Court addresses both legal principles so it is a useful summary to address these principles and how they may be looked at in the context of COVID-19.
In short, no. If you believe that you have a potential claim, then you need to set our your factual allegations and claims before the time limit set in the BC Human Rights Code. That goes for most claims, and is also true for the work discrimination case example below.
An employer may terminate and employee for many different reasons, such as: selling the business; employee misconduct; bankruptcy; business restructuring; and many others. It would be impossible to cover all scenarios in this one post. However, we can offer some general guidelines for all employers, who need to embark upon the unfortunate situation of firing an employee.
The fees vary based on the service or issue. For example, if you want a contract reviewed or drafted then the expense will differ from representation in a wrongful dismissal or human rights claim. The process starts with a free consultation. In this consultation we can usually identify likely options to deal with the employment issue facing you or your business. In small matters such as a contract review, a free consultation may be all you require as we can often determine if you need representation or if you can manage the issue on your own.
Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt
505 Fisgard St, Victoria
BC V8W 1R3
H: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm