Since COVID-19 related travel measures took effect, foreign workers arriving to Canada have been obligated to quarantine for 14 days before they could safely integrate with the general population. What was less clear about this arrangement is how this period of time is treated in terms of employment status.

Effectively, an employee is officially commencing their employment on the day they arrive and begin their quarantine. This means that the employer is expected to have the employee officially on payroll at that time. The employer must provide salary and all applicable benefits for the employee. Due to practical constraints, such as the worker not being able to leave quarantine to open a bank account and apply for their social insurance number, the official pay slip may be produced once these items are completed. The important point is that the quarantine period is to be treated as the start of official employment.

This does not mean, however, that the employee is expected to work during the quarantine period. Of course, in circumstances that allow for remote work from the place of quarantine, there is no restriction on their right to start working. In many cases, remote working is not possible, and the employer cannot demand any participation from the employee. The employer is strictly required not to do anything that prevents the employee from meeting the quarantine requirements.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.