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COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions about Reopening the Quebec Economy

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Reopening the Economy

When does the first phase of the reopening of the economy begin in Quebec?

The first phase began on May 4th for businesses located outside the territory of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CCM), and on May 25 for those located within this metropolitan community. The government intends to announce the second part of its recovery plan at a later date. This will apply to shopping centres, personal care businesses, distribution centres, the cultural sector and the tourism industry.

Additional information is available on the government website: Resumption of economic activities.

Which sectors in Quebec are currently allowed to reopen?

Below is the government's plan for the resumption of economic activities, as of May 7. Businesses operating in the following sectors will be able to reopen: 

 

Dates by Zones

Economic Sector

Quebec (except Metropolitan Montreal) 

       Metropolitan Montreal

Retail stores with a direct exterior access and their supply chain

 

Starting on May 4 

 

Starting on May 25

Manufacturing companies and their supply chain

May 11 – 50 workers + 50% of the number of remaining employees per shift

 

May 25 – no restriction on the number of workers

May 18 – 50 workers + 50% of the number of remaining employees per shift

 

May 25– no restriction on the number of employees

Construction industry and its supply chains

May 11

May 18

*** Teleworking must continue whenever possible.

If I reopen my business, does that mean that the threat of COVID-19 has been eliminated?

No. You will need to follow the guidelines for your economic sector and comply with health recommendations in order to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and ensure the safety of your employees and customers.

Labour Standards

My business is allowed to reopen. How do I recall my employees?

Notify your employees as far in advance as possible. You can send them a registered letter or an email indicating the date of their next working day, schedule and hourly rate (if the rate has changed), together with any other relevant information they may need.

My business is financially unstable, can I reduce my employees’ wages when they return to work?

You must formally notify employees before making any changes in their working conditions, such as reducing the hours of work, wages or benefits promised in a job description or a letter of offer. A radical change to an employment contract may result in an employee filing a constructive dismissal complaint with the CNESST, which will then assign one of its inspectors to review the request. These situations can be complex to manage. Contact us at 1-888-234-2232 and speak to one of our Business Counsellors for personalized advice.

Is an employee entitled to Easter holiday pay, even if he or she was not scheduled to work because of COVID-19?

To be eligible for Easter holiday pay, workers must be actively employed by you at the time of the holiday (Good Friday or Easter Monday, according to your choice). If a Record of Employment has been prepared for an employee and this person had not been recalled to work as of the Easter holiday, he or she is not entitled to Easter holiday pay.

In the case of employees who have not returned to work but whom you have started paying again (e.g., through the wage subsidy program), it is as if they are back at work; as such, they are entitled to Easter holiday pay.

Can employees take another leave after the government has forced me to close my business as part of the fight against COVID-19?

Depending on the situation, employees may be entitled to other leaves and absences under the Act respecting Labour Standards.

An employee has decided to resign. What do I need to do?

An employee who has decided to resign must submit a letter of resignation for your files. These situations can be complex to manage. Contact us at 1-888-234-2232 and speak to one of our Counsellors for personalized advice.

Occupational Health and Safety

What do I do if an employee refuses to work because of concerns about COVID-19?

Under the terms of the Act respecting Occupational Health and Safety, your employees have the right to refuse to come to work for health and safety reasons. The Act requires you to take these concerns into consideration and to respond to them to the extent possible. These situations can be complex to manage. Contact us at 1-888-234-2232 and speak to one of our Business Counsellors for personalized advice.

What are my employees’ health and safety rights?

The Act respecting Occupational Health and Safety requires every employer to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers. If protective equipment is needed, it is your responsibility as an employer to provide it.

What tools are available to help SMEs prepare for the re-opening under COVID-19?

In the run-up to the reopening of the economy, the CNESST has prepared a COVID-19 toolkit for employers and workers. It contains all the health and safety recommendations for your sector of activity. Workplaces tend to be unique, so we recommend that you use the CNESST recommendations as guiding principles to create a safe work environment specific to your company for your employees, suppliers, service providers and customers.

We are here to help

Don’t see the information you need? To talk to an expert, contact us at:

1-888-234-2232

Everything you need to know to navigate the crisis

During the  COVID-19 crisis, our primary concern at CFIB is making sure you have the support you need to get through this uncertain and challenging time. We will provide you with expert advice and ensure that you have all of the latest information on government announcements and available support.

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