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COVID-19: Saskatchewan Reopening Frequently Asked Questions

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Reopening the economy

When is the start of the first phase of reopening the economy in Saskatchewan?

The Government of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan introduces five phases to methodically, gradually and cautiously re-open businesses and services across Saskatchewan, beginning May 4, 2020.  The plan also details physical distancing measures and restrictions that will remain in place throughout the five phases and provides a number of factors to inform decisions regarding the lifting of long-term restrictions.

Over the next several weeks, restrictions will be gradually lifted by adding more types of businesses to the allowable businesses list, meaning that they can re-open if they so choose. All businesses and public venues will be required to continue following physical distancing and cleaning and disinfection practices to protect both employees and customers. Members of the public will be expected to follow physical distancing rules and to stay home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

What sectors are allowed to reopen during which phases of the plan?

The Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, which was announced on April 23rd, consists of five phases.  The timing and order of the businesses and workplaces included in each phase is subject to change throughout the process based on a continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors.

Phase One (May 4): Re-opening previously restricted medical services, Opening of golf courses, parks and campground

Phase Two (May 19): Re-opening retail, shopping malls and select personal care services

  • The second phase of the plan includes the May 19 re-opening of retail businesses, shopping malls and their tenants, public & farmers markets, and select personal services that were previously not deemed allowable.
  • The size restrictions of public and private gatherings will remain at a maximum of 10 people.
  • A full list of retail businesses and select personal services that will be deemed allowable in phase two is included in the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, along with guidance, protocols, and physical distancing measures that allowable businesses and services are required to observe.

Phase Three (June 8): Re-opening restaurants and food services at 50% capacity, gyms and fitness centres, licensed establishments and child care facilities, re-opening remaining personal care services, increasing the size of  indoor public and private gatherings to 15 people

Personal service businesses that did not open in Phase 2 are also allowed to begin providing services.

This includes:

  • Estheticians;
  • Tattoo artists;
  • Make-up applicators;
  • Electrologists;
  • Manicurists;
  • Pedicurists;
  • Sun tanning parlours;
  • Facilities in which body piercing, bone grafting or scarification services are provided; and
  • Other personal service facilities  

 

Guidance for restaurants, fitness facilities and other businesses and services opening is now available:

 

For additional information about sector specific guidelines in the Reopening plan, please see visit the Government of Saskatchewan's website.

As restrictions on businesses and services are gradually lifted in the province, additional information continues to be added to the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan based on direction from public health officials and input from businesses and service providers.

The size of indoor public and private gatherings will increase to 15 people in Phase 3, while the size of outdoor gatherings will increase to 30.

 

Phase 4, Part 1 (June 22):

Activities scheduled for the first part of Phase 4 of the plan to re-open the province can get underway, including:

  • child and youth day camps;
  • outdoor pools and splash pads; and
  • outdoor sports and activities.

Residents are advised to check with the local operator of the activities noted above regarding availability.  Some municipalities have indicated that activities, such as outdoor pools, may remain closed.

 

Phase 4, Part 2 (June 29):

Beginning Monday, June 29, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres and live theatres will be able to re-open.

The re-opening dates for the other activities in this part of Phase 4, including indoor pools, indoor rinks, indoor sports and activities, casinos and bingo halls will be announced over the next two weeks.

 

Indoor Pools, Rinks, Sports And The Performing Arts Can Re-Open On July 6; Casinos And Bingo Halls To Follow On July 9

Beginning Monday, July 6, indoor pools, indoor rinks, indoor sports and activities, and the performing arts – including music, dance and theatre – will be able to re-open. The seating capacity for restaurants and licensed establishments will also increase that same day to a level that allows staff and customers to maintain two metres of physical distance.

On Thursday, July 9, casinos and bingo halls are able to re-open for business. 

Racetracks and rodeo-related activities are targeted to resume on July 16.  Guidelines are being developed and will include guidance related to spectators. 

 

Phase Five (Date TBD): Consider lifting long-term restrictions

 The fifth phase will be implemented following an evaluation of transmission patterns of COVID-19 and the preceding four phases, and will include the consideration of lifting long-term restrictions.

What do I need to know before I can reopen my business?

The Government of Saskatchewan has released workplace health and safety guidelines, as well as sector specific guidelines on its reopening plan website for sectors to prepare for reopening their businesses. Please contact Business Resources to inquire if your sector has any specific guidelines.

If I am reopening my business, does that mean the threat of COVID-19 is over?

No, in order to reduce exposure, you will need to follow your sectoral guidelines that ensure the safety of your employees and general public that your business comes in contact.

If I have any specific questions about reopening my business who should I contact?

You can contact the Government of Saskatchewan’s Business Response Team via email at [email protected] or at 1-844-800-8688. You can also contact CFIB’s Business Resources at 1-888-234-2232 or via email at [email protected]

Employment Standards Act

My business can be open, how do I re-call my employees?

Provide employees with as much notice as you can. You can send a registered letter to your employee letting them know the date of their next shift, hours, along with any relevant information they need such as a contact person they can reach out to, like a supervisor, if they have any questions or concerns. Please contact Business Resources for further information.

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

You are required to give proper notice to employees prior to changing any terms and conditions, such as reducing working hours, pay or entitlements that you have promised in a job description or letter of offer. Any drastic changes to an employee agreement can cause an employee to file a constructive dismissal claim. Please contact Business Resources for further information.

Does my employee qualify for Public Holiday pay, even when they weren’t scheduled to work due to COVID-19?

All employees, unless they are part of the Employment Standards Special Rules such as some employees in the agricultural sector and hourly paid construction employees, are eligible for Public Holiday Pay.

If your employee is currently on leave or temporarily laid off, you would not be required to pay them Public Holiday Pay. Please contact Business Resources with questions regarding other variations to an employee’s work schedule.

My employee is not returning due to the Saskatchewan Public Health Emergency leave, what does this mean?

The Saskatchewan government has provided an unpaid, job protected, leave for employees if they have been directed to isolate as ordered by:

  • their employer;
  • the government;
  • their doctor; or
  • the chief medical health officer of the province.

Or, if they are required to care for their child or family member who are affected by the order or direction of the Government of Saskatchewan or an order of the chief medical health officer.

Employees will be entitled to leave for the length of time they are ordered by their employer, government, their doctor or the chief medical health officer to remain away from work.

Can my employee take another leave after the Public Health Emergency Leave?

Depending on an employee situation, they may be entitled to another leave under the Employment Standards Act such as:

  • Medical leave
  • Family leave
  • Compassionate care leave
  • Bereavement leave
  • Service leave
What are the rights of my employees that are on a provincial leave?

Your employee is entitled to return to work to same job or comparable job, without penalty, able to continue to receive their benefits (if opted in) and continue to add to years of service with your business.

I am considering terminating my employee at this time, what should I know?

The Saskatchewan Employment Standards Act outlines an employee’s minimum entitlement when employee is being terminated. This includes termination notice or pay – entitlement depends on length of employment. While this may seem like the only option, please consider speaking with your Business Resources team as this can be a sensitive time to make this decision.

My employee has decided to resign, what should I do?

If the employee has decided to part ways, the employee should give you a letter of resignation for your records. You will need to issue a Record of Employment citing their resignation. Please contact Business Resources for further information.

I am considering laying off some staff temporarily due to the COVID19 pandemic's State of Emergency. What do I need to know?

An employer has the option to implement a temporary layoff as part of their response to the public emergency during an order of the medical health officer or an emergency declaration by the Government of Saskatchewan.

UPDATE: Employers do not have to provide notice or pay instead of notice for layoffs that will occur during and up for up to two weeks after a public emergency period. The additional two weeks are provided for employers and employees to prepare for the employee to return to work. Employees are to be scheduled on or before the end of the two weeks, otherwise their employment is considered to be terminated and pay instead of notice is due. Pay instead of notice would be calculated from the date the employee was originally laid off.

Employees on a temporary layoff would still be considered employees but would be able to apply for Federal Employment Insurance Benefits.

 

CURRENT STATE OF EMERGENCY: Extended to Wednesday, August 5th.

For more information, please review the Employment Standards Q&A backgrounder: https://publications.saskatchewan.ca/api/v1/products/104952/formats/116959/download

Workplace Safety and Health (WS&H)

What are my employee health and safety rights?

The Occupational Health and Safety requires all employers to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers. An employee has the right to participate by providing feedback to their employer, the right to know hazards that they may be exposed to, and the right to refuse working in an unsafe environment.

What should I have in my workplace to maintain a safe environment?

While the Saskatchewan government has created guidelines to assist as you reopen your business, every business is different, and you should assess your business operations to address potential risks. Preventative measures can include installing physical distancing signage, adding plexi-glass to create a barrier between customer and employee, and/or having a supply of hand sanitizer, paper towel, and soap for employees on site.

Along with creating preventative measures for your business, you should also aim to comply with current Occupational Health and Safety rules, such as having a violence and harassment policy and program, as well as health and safety policy and having an Occupation Health and Safety Representative or Committee.

My employee feels ill, do I have to send them home?

If your employee is ill, the employee must be sent home and you should contact your employee remotely to advise them to complete the online COVID-19 self-assessment, and call family physician or Healthline - 811. You should create a list of their whereabouts in the workplace, including but not limited to: the washroom, workstations, lunchroom, and equipment used so that you can assign a staff member to disinfect areas. If possible, also compile a list of staff they worked with during their shift.

What if I find out my employee has been exposed to COVID-19 at work, who do I notify?

Public Health must be notified of all positive cases of COVID-19. If an employee tested positive for COVID-19, Public Health may consult with the employer after speaking with and obtaining consent from the employee. If other employees are impacted, Public Health will direct the actions required and will do so in consultation with the employer.

You may advise staff that there is a positive case of COVID-19 in the workplace without revealing information regarding the case or person. Let employees know the measures that the business is taking to ensure their safety. Advise employees that they may be contacted by public health if they have been named as a contact.

What should I know about how Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will handle COVID-19 situations?

A worker may be entitled to compensation if there is a confirmed link between the workers exposure and their employment and they contract COVID-19.  If an employee feels they have been exposed to COVID-19 during working hours, they can file for a WCB claim. Find out more.

What if my employees are refusing work due to COVID-19 concerns?

Employees have the right to refuse working under what they consider unsafe environment. If this is the case, remind your employees of the preventive measures that have put in place, and the safety products available to them. Communicate to the employee that their safety is your priority.

You may choose to reassign work, perhaps allowing them to work from home. In this case, the employee must receive the same wages and benefits as they would have received under their previous assignment. There is a work refusal process, which may be escalated to the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety OHS Division to ensure safety of employees and confirm if your preventative measures are up to the standards. Please contact Business Resources for further information on this topic.

Can I hire a replacement to an employee on a leave?

If the employee is on a protected leave (such as family leave, medical leave, public health emergency leave), you will need to give them their same or comparable job when they are able to return.

You can hire temporary employees to replace employees on a leave. When hiring temporary staff, provide them with a contract that details their terms and conditions.

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