COVID-19 Employment Law Helpline

To address the increasing number of questions and concerns about the implications of COVID-19 on the workplace, for both employee and employer, we have established a free employment helpline.  The helpline is designed to provide quick answers, and information related to all areas of employment law.

Note:  This is a legal helpline. If you are experiencing symptoms or concerned that you have been exposed to the COVID-19 please contact your primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario.

 

Helpline number: 613-231-8275

Available Monday to Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm EST

What is it?

Free access to a 20 minute consult with a lawyer to help you navigate your legal questions regarding COVID -19, and its implications on the workplace.

What can I expect?

A 20 minute consultation with a lawyer who will help you better understand your legal situation, rights and decisions to be made. The information provided is meant to direct your path – if you have a legal issue that merits further legal action, you will be informed during the consultation on how to pursue legal action.  Please note that the lawyers intend to provide brief services. They do not create an ongoing lawyer-client relationship with you.

  • We can:
    • Help you understand your legal rights;
    • Outline options;
    • Guide you on the process, including the recent updates announced by the federal government;
  • We cannot:
    • Provide comprehensive legal opinions or predict outcomes;
    • Review contracts or any other documents;
    • Provide specific recommendations;
    • Provide second opinions;
    • Guarantee representation in court;
    • Take responsibility to prepare any documents unless retained;

Please note that in order to avoid any conflict of interest, specifics related to your situation including employer/employee names and contract details can not be discussed.

Who can call?

This service is for anyone needing information about the implications of COVID-19 on the workplace for both employees and employers.

Please note, this is not an official Government of Canada Helpline. If you have a question about your specific CERB/CESB application status, contact Canada Revenue Agency.

Unfortunately, we are not able to provide this service to unionized employees. If you are a unionized employee, please contact your union representative.

We are currently able to provide this service for residents and workplaces in Ontario and Quebec.

Additional information about our helpline

How does it work?

  • Each day we will dedicate a team of lawyers to support the helpline.
  • 20 minutes time slots will be available for sign-up on a first come/first serve basis at the start of each day
  • To book a time-slot, please call 613-231-8275. The booking line will be open at 9:00 am. Once your time slot is booked, you will be provided with a call time and meeting details.
  • We will also post an update on this site to let you know when the spots are full.
  • The time slots that are available will depend on the team available. We are striving to provide a mix of morning, afternoon and evening time slots to accommodate your varied needs.

Will I still need a lawyer?

  • Maybe. While we would like to be more concrete, it really depends on your situation. Our goal is to have you leave the consult knowing what your options are and where to go next. For some, this may involve additional legal services.

Will I have to pay?

  • No. The service is free. Should you require additional services to resolve your situation you may need to hire a lawyer. The objective of this service is to help you understand your options on next steps.

Can I call about non-COVID-19 related issues?

No. This service has been created to help alleviate the pressure and stress on our community as a direct result of COVID-19. If you would like to discuss a different legal matter, please contact us at 613-238-8080 or info@nelliganlaw.ca

Questions we are receiving

I am pregnant and was planning on going on pregnancy/parental leave, but have been laid off. If I receive CERB, will I still be able to access EI pregnancy/parental leave benefits afterward?

The federal government has not yet released specific guidance on the interaction between the CERB and EI pregnancy/parental leave benefits. However, the government’s CERB webpage states: “you retain your eligibility to receive for Employment Insurance after you stop receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and the period that you received the CERB does not impact your EI entitlement”. We recommend that you call Service Canada for more specific information regarding the CERB and EI pregnancy/parental benefits.

I have my own business as a corporate entity. Could I still be eligible for the CERB?

The CERB applies to self-employed individuals. If you are an employee of your own business (and not just a shareholder, for example), you may be eligible for the CERB. For more specific advice as to whether you have an employment relationship with the corporate entity, please contact an employment lawyer.

Can I be terminated or is it illegal given COVID-19?

Lawyers on the helpline cannot give you an opinion as to your specific circumstances or advice as to the legality of your termination. Both legal and illegal terminations can still occur despite the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic; we recommend you book a regular appointment with one of our lawyers through our main intake line to get more specific advice about your situation.

I have been terminated – what are my options in terms of benefits?

If you have lost your job as a result of COVID-19, you should check to see if you are eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit  If you are not eligible for the CERB, you may be able to discuss the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy with your employer as another possible option. If your termination is not as a result of COVID-19, we recommend referring to the regular Employment Insurance benefits on the Service Canada website.

If I choose not to go to work because I feel unsafe, am I still entitled to CERB?

The CERB is not available to individuals who voluntarily quit their jobs. However, if you feel you have been forced to quit your job because you felt unsafe reporting to work as a result of COVID-19, you may still be CERB-eligible if your resignation was not “voluntary”. We do note that every situation is different and we cannot provide an opinion on your specific eligibility for the CERB. We encourage individuals who may be CERB-eligible to apply for the benefit starting April 6 and to call back if they have further questions.