Kraken COVID Variant and Remote Work: CityNews Interviews Calgary Employment Lawyer

Interview Summary

A new COVID-19 variant named “the Kraken” by many has led to an increased number of cases across the province. Many individuals have voiced concerns about health and public safety. Could a rise in cases allow employees to request a remote work arrangement? What can employers expect in the coming months?

Karen Tereposky, a Calgary employment lawyer and Associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP spoke to CityNews Calgary’s Henna Saeed on the growing concerns and employee rights.

Interview Notes

“Employers don’t know yet, as this variant is pretty new. I don’t think anyone’s had to take any steps at this time,” says Tereposky.

Tereposky goes on to explain the difference in situations from the current wave of the pandemic, to the policies put in place in 2020. “The government has not said, as they did in 2020 and 2021, that there is a mandatory work-from-home order.”

An employee’s employment contract will ultimately decide on their current work arrangement. “The only other way employers would be legally bound is if it is in the employment contract for the particular employee,” Tereposky states.

Rights when returning to office work in Alberta

Employees that are worried about contracting the virus can be reassured by some protections. “There are job-protected leaves under the Employment Standards Code. There is a COVID-19 leave or just a long-term illness leave, that can be accessed and employers have to let employees take those and then return to their same job.”

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