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Apr 1, 2020

More Questions for the Labour Commissioner

Ann Marie Thompson

Other questions raised during the online session focused on the enforcement of the labour laws during the State of Emergency. The online viewers were also concerned about those front-line workers in light of the COVID-19. Here’s how Labour Commissioner Ann Marie Thompson responded to those issues.

 

Host

“Will there be enforcement at the labour level for employers of non-essential services who compel them to work during the state of emergency?”

 

Ann Marie Thompson, Labour Commissioner

“So far we have all our labour officers working and they are taking calls from employers and employees on labour related matters. So, please call us on any issue. We will speak with you and record the information and act accordingly. Many of the calls that we get we will have to investigate the information on a one-on-one basis because circumstances are different.”

 

Host

“What are the obligations of the employer to the employees of those businesses that are shut down due to the state of emergency?”

 

Ann Marie Thompson

“If a business ceases to operate, there are certain benefits that are due to the employees. Benefits would include salaries; it may include vacation pay; it may include severance. What the employer needs to do is to get in touch with the labour department, give us the details and information and then we can advise you appropriately. Not all benefits are due to all persons. It depends on the circumstances.”

 

Host

“What happens to front-line workers, who become infected or may become infected on the job for instance, doctors, nurses, law enforcement – they are considered essential service and infected on the job, how are they impacted?”

 

Ann Marie Thompson

“Well, I can speak from a position of health and safety. All employers have the responsibility to make sure that their employees are protected. I say this in accordance with one of the conventions we have signed on to as a member of the ILO where employers are required to protected employees with protective gears and equipment. So, that is very important. Most organizations would have some policy as to how employees would be treated if they become ill on the job, especially under these circumstances. But what is very important is that there is dialogue and persons comply with the instructions and the bulletins put out by ministry of health. There are guidelines given; protocols given and that is what we encourage people to pay attention to, as well as social distancing. But in all of this, please make every effort that you and employees are protected. It may mean that businesses will have to conduct their business a little differently and it is a sacrifice.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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