COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis. With the rapid pace of changing information, this is intended to be a central ‘hub’ for employers to access relevant information and resources. We’re here to help.
Together, we will get through this.
Free COVID-19 Employer Consultations
On March 16th, 2020 we launched free COVID-19 consultations for employers. No strings attached, no subtle sales pitch, no expectations. Simply doing what we believe to be right, supporting our community. If you’re an employer that needs support, doesn’t know what to do next, or just needs an ear – reach out. We are here for you. Connect with our team of HR specialists for a free employer consultation.
COVID-19 Return to Work Framework
Plan your return to work.
COVID-19 Health & Safety Posters
Package of printable posters.
COVID-19 Employee Resource Guide
Support your employees.
COVID-19 Remote Onboarding Guide
Pivot to remote onboarding.
COVID-19 Layoff Guide
Compassionate layoffs in a crisis.
COVID-19 Remote Offboarding Checklist
Checklist for remote offboarding.
COVID-19 Work-Sharing Program Overview
Financial support for employers.
COVID-19 Employer Response Guide
Respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Support for Employers
Updated April 27, 2020
75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
NOTE: We recommend consulting with your accountant before submitting your CEWS application. If you need an accountant, click here for recommendations.
What is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy?
75% wage subsidy to employees’ wages for qualifying businesses, non-profits, and charities for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
NEW (as of April 11, 2020): Refund of Certain Payroll Contributions
Subsidy will apply up to the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to a maximum of $847 per week per eligible employee.
12-week period: March 15 to June 6, 2020.
Businesses who can afford to top up the remaining 25% of the wages are encouraged to do so.
NEW (as of April 22, 2020): Applications for the CEWS open on April 27th
Partnerships consisting of eligible employers, non-profit organizations and registered charities.
Revenue drop of at least:
15% in March 2020
30% for following months
Decline benchmark can be either YOY for the same month in 2019 OR compared to January & February 2020
NOTE: All employers are allowed to calculate their change in revenue using an alternative benchmark to determine their eligibility. This provides more flexibility to employers for which the general approach may not be appropriate, including high-growth firms, sectors that faced difficulties in 2019, non-profits and charities, as well as employers established after February 2019.
Public bodies are not eligible for this subsidy. Public bodies generally include municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, wholly owned municipal corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals.
Employers will need to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm’s-length revenues and remuneration paid to employees
More details regarding how to apply for the program will follow
How does this interact with the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy?
It is assumed that employers have claimed the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy. You are required to reduce your subsidy claim by the equivalent amount of the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy.
How does this interact with the Work-Sharing Program?
EI benefits received by employees through the Work-Sharing program reduce the benefit that their employer is entitled to receive under the CEWS.
An employee is collecting the CERB, but earning less than $1,000 working for my business. Can I claim the CEWS for their $1,000 in wages?
Yes. Note that if the employee earns even $1 more than $1,000 per month they are no longer eligible for the CERB.
The wage subsidy would be claimed against wages in three claiming periods:
March 15 – April 11 (for March)
April 12 – May 9 (for April)
May 10 – June 6 (for May)
Once approved, employers are not required to reapply for this wage subsidy each month.
Employers must pay their employees’ wages first, then apply for the CEWS through the CRA’s My Business Account portal. Payment will be received through direct deposit, if possible. Employers must keep records of their arm’s length revenues and employee remuneration.
Employers are expected to make their best effort to top-up employees’ salaries to bring them to pre-crisis levels.
Funds are expected to be available 3 – 6 weeks after applying.
Note: Businesses who have claimed the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidycan still claim the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy as well. If an employer does not qualify for the CEWS, they may still qualify for the Temporary Wage Subsidy. Contact us for more information: [email protected]
What is the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)?
Commercial rent support to small and medium-sized businesses
Government will offer loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial landlords who offer rent reductions to businesses
Support available for April, May & June rents
Support will likely go directly to commercial landlords who provide rents reductions their tenants.
Will be administered provincially, as rental agreements are under provincial jurisdiction
Note: The CECRA was announced on April 17, 2020 and still has not passed into legislation. The government announced that implementation of the program will require a partnership with provincial and territorial governments who are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships.
Keep staff employed where those in a defined working unit can share hours of work while qualifying for EI (if eligible) to top-up on expenses, where reduction of work is between 10% and 60% of normal working hours.
Funding Support: Up to $900 every two weeks (Maximum 76 weeks)
Eligibility: Businesses, non-profits, and charities established for at least 1 year, staff participating must be EI eligible
What is work-sharing?
Work-sharing is a program to help eligible employers avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity which is beyond the control of the employer.
The program provides eligible employees with Employment Insurance Benefits as income support. Employees who have been affected by the reduction in business must agree to work a reduced schedule and share available work with other employees over a specified time period. Both the employer and the employee must apply to participate in a Work-Sharing program together.
What has changed because of COVID-19?
The Federal Government’s special measures recently implemented in response to COVID-19 include:
Waiving the mandatory waiting period (employers with a recently expired agreement may immediately apply for a new agreement, without waiting between applications)
Extending the extension period from 12 to 38 weeks; and,
Adding special measures for forestry, steel and aluminum sector.
How do I know if I am an eligible employer?
To be eligible for a Work-Sharing program, employers must:
Have been in business in Canada year-round for at least two (2) years
Be a private business, publicly held company or a non-profit organization
Show that the shortage of work is temporary and beyond their control
Demonstrate a recent decrease in business activity of approximately 10% (eg. gross sales)
Submit and implement a recovery plan intended to return the Work-Sharing individuals to normal working hours by the end of the program.
Note: A reduction in revenue alone for a non-profit organization does not qualify for Work Sharing (I.e. a decrease in grants, donations, memberships). The level of business activity must have been affected.
How do I know if employees are eligible?
To be eligible for a Work-Sharing program, employees must:
Be “core employees”
Not seasonal, or students hired for the summer or co-op term
Not hired on a casual or on-call basis
Not shareholders of the business or employees who hold significant decision-making power and control over the direction of the company (eg. executives or sales representatives)
Managers or supervisors do qualify provided they don’t have control over the direction of the company
Meet eligibility requirements for Employment Insurance
Agree to the temporary reduction in work
How many hours can employees’ schedules be reduced and how long can the program last?
Schedules can be reduced between a minimum of 10% (one half day) and a maximum of 60% (three days).
The work reduction can vary depending on available work each week, provided that the average work reduction for the duration of the program is between 10%-60%.
The program must have a minimum duration of six (6) weeks and can last up to 76 weeks as a result of COVID-19 (normally maximum 38 weeks).
How much will an employee earn on the work-sharing program?
The amount of benefits paid for a week of Work-Sharing is calculated by comparing the hours of work missed because of the Work-Sharing agreement against the hours the claimant would have normally worked. Benefits are paid as a percentage of hours missed. The benefit rate is established in the same manner as the benefit rate for all other EI claims, 55% of the lost income up to a maximum amount of $54,200 (click here for information regarding calculating the benefit rate for EI).
The following example is adapted from the Service Canada website:
Jane works full-time at an engineering firm earning $769 per week;
Due to COVID-19, the firm has faced a significant reduction in workload;
The firm decides to enter into a work-share agreement with Service Canada where all unit members reduce their work by 35%;
If Jane does not agree to the voluntarily reduced work hours, she will be laid off and receive $500 per week (through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit);
If Jane agrees to reduce her work hours by 35%, then she will receive the following payments:
$500 per week from her employer (65% of her previous weekly income); and
$148 per week from Service Canada ((calculated using same formula as EI, 55% of the lost income up to a maximum amount of $54,200)
Jane now has the potential to earn $648 per week and keep her skills up to date.
Have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits
Had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application
Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period or the period in which they apply for the benefit*
Can I earn income while claiming the CERB?
Currently, you cannot earn any income while collecting the CERB. Justin Trudeau indicated durTo qualify, you must have 14 consecutive days without income for the first 4-week period, and no income for each additional period you collect the CERB.
Do dividends count toward the minimum $5,000 income requirement?
If I am in receipt of dividends am I eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?
Yes, as long as the dividends are non-eligible dividends (generally, those paid out of corporate income taxed at the small business rate). An individual could count this income towards the $5,000 income requirement to be eligible for CERB.
The Province of British Columbia is providing a $1,000 one-time tax-free payment to those workers unable to work due to COVID-19 whether because they have been laid off, are sick, or are in quarantine. The credit is also available to those who are collecting employment insurance or the Canadian Economic Response Benefit.
Who is eligible?
Have been a resident of British Columbia on March 15, 2020
Meet the eligibility requirements for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Have been approved for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, even if you haven’t received a federal benefit payment yet
Be at least 15 years old on the date you apply
Have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return
Not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance
What do I need to apply?
Social Insurance Number
Direct Deposit Information
Approved Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
How do I apply?
Online starting May 1, 2020
Note: Documentation isn’t required when you apply. However, all applications will be verified and we may ask you for proof of your eligibility at a later date.
The CCB is a tax-free monthly payment to families raising children under the age of 18. During COVID-19, the government will be providing an additional $300 per child for the 2019/2020 benefit year. This will be part of the scheduled benefit payment in May.
Please note: If you already receive the CCB from the government, you don’t need to take any action to receive this additional benefit.
Who is eligible for the CCB?
Individuals eligible for this benefit must meet all of the following criteria:
They live with a child under 18 years of age
They are primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the child
They are a resident of Canada for tax purposes
They or their spouse or common-law partner are one of the following:
No rent increases are allowed in BC effective April 1s, 2020 for the duration of the state of emergency. In addition, evictions will not be permitted during COVID-19, unless accepted as a special circumstance by the Residential Tenancy Branch for safety reasons.
For up to three months through the end of June, the program offers $300 per month for eligible applicants with no dependents and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents. Roommates will be able to apply for the supplement individually. Paid directly to landlords via direct deposit.
Who is eligible?
Households need to meet each of the following criteria to qualify for the BC Temporary Rental Supplement:
Gross household income of less than:
$74,150 for singles & couples without dependents
$113,040 for households with dependents
Struggling as a result of COVID-19
Be receiving or eligible for Employment Insurance; or
Be receiving or eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit offered by the federal government; or
Have experienced, and be able to provide evidence of, a drop of 25% or more in monthly household employment income
Paying 30% of current household income towards rent
Legal & illegal suites are both eligible
Tenants must be renting a primary residence in British Columbia and the unit must be covered under the Residential Tenancy Act, the Manufactured Home Act, or the Cooperative Association Act.
Tenants are not eligible if their rent is subsidized by any other government program. Other government programs include: subsidized housing; rent supplements such as Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) or the Rental Assistance Program (RAP); Income Assistance; and Disability Assistance.
How do I apply?
Applications accepted through BC Housing: Apply now.
Mortgage payment deferral options may be available to owners during the COVID-19 crisis. The deferral is an agreement between an owner and a lender to agree to pause mortgage payments for a certain amount of time. Once the agreement ends, the mortgage payments return to normal and the missed payments – including principal and accumulated interest are repaid.
What is the federal and provincial loan payment freeze?
Any employees who have federal student loans will be excused from making payments on the principle or interest from March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020. During this time, no interest will accumulate. This also applies to provincial loans from the following provinces:
Newfoundland and Labrador
How do I apply?
No action needed. All direct deposit payments for loan payments will be halted and those who pay by cheque do not need to send in cheques during this time period.
A one-time GST credit will be paid out by early May 2020 to low- and modest-income families to support during COVID-19. The credit will be worth $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
Who is eligible?
You are generally eligible for the GST tax credit if you are one of the following:
At least 19 years old
Have (or had) a spouse or common-law partner
Are (or were) a parent and live (or lived) with your child
Note: Parents sharing custody may be eligible for half of the GST credit.
How do I apply?
You don’t need to apply for this benefit. It will be paid out automatically according to your tax return.
Taxpayers who are required to make filings (I.e. returns, elections, designations, information requests) that are due after March 18, 2020 can defer these filings to June 1, 2020 effective immediately.
The Province is providing an enhanced climate action tax credit for those employees who pay income tax and who are otherwise eligible for that credit. This credit will be a one-time boost of up to $564 for eligible families of 4 and $218 for eligible individuals in an enhanced payment in July.
Who is eligible?
Individuals are eligible to receive the credit if they are a resident of B.C. and they:
are 19 years of age or older, or
have a spouse or common-law partner, or
are a parent who resides with your child
How do I apply?
Children under 18 years old must be registered for the CCB to qualify. No other action is needed. The benefit is paid out according to your income tax return.
take three days of unpaid sick leave, provided they have been employed for 90 days; and
an unpaid leave of absence in relation to COVID-19 if:
the employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is complying with instructions, orders or advice from medical professionals
the employee is in quarantine or self-isolation in accordance with:
an order of the provincial health officer
an order made under the Quarantine Act (Canada)
guidelines of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control
guidelines of the Public Health Agency of Canada
the employer has directed the employee not to work, due to the employer’s concern about the employee’s exposure to others;
the employee is providing care to an eligible person, including because of the closure of a school or daycare or similar facility;
the employee is prevented from returning to British Columbia because of travel restrictions; or
a prescribed situation exists relating to the employee.
Employees wishing to take COVID-19 Leave will not be required to provide a medical note to employers. However, employers can require that employees provide evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances, as soon as practicable, to substantiate their absence.
Remote Work Resources
Remote Work Survival Kit for COVID-19 (Crowdsourced & Live):Click Here
Envol’s “Transitioning Your Team to Remote Work” blog:Click Here
Building Strong Relationships in Remote Teams by Zapier: Click Here
Envol Solutions Inc. is a boutique human capital consulting firm, specializing in human resources, employer branding and recruiting solutions. Further details can be found at www.envolstrategies.com.
This publication is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with, and does not constitute advice. It is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. Note past results are not guarantees of future results. Each matter is individual and will be decided on its own facts.