Employee rights when providing at-home services – Global News

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Safety precautions for at-home service providers during coronavirus pandemic

As provinces continue to ease the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown an give the green light to more business to reopen, new health and safety protocols are being created for service providers.

Many guidelines will be in play, including the requirement to maintain physical distancing, regular hand-washing, and the use of a face mask.

Global News spoke to Lior Samfiru, an employment lawyer and co-founding partner of Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, about the rights of employees who are providing at-home services in Canada.

What are my rights when providing at-home services during COVID-19?

Samfiru told Global News that “the best line of defence for at-home service providers and technicians is vetting the customers.”

“The employer has an obligation to keep the employee safe, even in a situation where they go into someone’s house,” he said. “Asking questions, while not a perfect system because you’re depending on individuals to give you accurate information, is needed.”

Should an employee feel certain safety precautions aren’t being met — whether it be properly vetting a customer or providing adequate protective gear — the employee has the right to refuse the service, he added.

“If the employee has any reason to believe what they’ve been asked to do puts them in an unsafe environment, they can 100 per cent refuse the work,” he said. “They also cannot be penalized for it, as long as the employee is acting in good faith.”

Samfiru believes protective equipment might become a sticking point between employees and employers in certain industries as the pandemic drags on, and in some cases, already has.

He said there’s no formal requirement for employers to give PPE to their employees.

“But that doesn’t stop employees from asking for it or from potentially bringing their own,” he said.

“Even though they’re not required to do that, an employer that chooses not to provide it to their employees is going to be much more susceptible to a work refusal.”

Learn more about your rights during the coronavirus pandemic through our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Knowledge Centre, where you can find resources about your employment rights during COVID-19.

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