Return-to-work: in any condition?

Retour au travail: à n’importe quelle condition?

The return to work is accompanied by a number of issues : safe work environment, refusal to work, child care, layoffs… If the situation exceptional force to study certain situations on a case-by-case basis, the rules laid down by the law will be able to in spite of everything help you see more clearly.

Attention : these information affect the majority of Québec workers, but there can be exceptions and shades if you are an executive or if you work for a company under federal jurisdiction (e.g. : telecommunications, banks, etc.).


 A working environment that respects the guidelines of the public health

Your employer should provide you with an adequate working environment for your health and your safety at all times. Check with your employer to know about the measures put in place in view of the return-to-work. Everything should be done according to the guidelines of the public health. For example, your employer must adapt the workplace to meet the more possible the rules of distancing physical, provide protective equipment if necessary or clean and disinfect frequently touched (such as tables, counters, handles, toilets, etc).

Temporary layoff : when it comes time to get back to work

We speak of temporary layoff when an employer lays off its employees for a period of less than 6 months. This may be your case. You have lost your salary, but you’ve kept a link with your employer. In this situation, you could ask to receive the Benefit of canadian emergency (or employment insurance) to compensate for the lost wages. It may not be too late to do that if you are eligible !

If the situation allows, your employer may ask you to return to work. This is the case if the company can now re-open its doors. As soon as you get back to work, then you need to be paid.

Return to work at reduced hours

You may still be entitled to the benefits of the government, even if you have returned to work. This is the case if you win up to $ 1000 per month.

If your layoff becomes permanent

Unfortunately, many businesses do not survive a health crisis : they will close permanently their doors. If this happens to your employer, you will then be without employment relationship with him : you will be laid off permanently or discharged.

In this case, your employer will send you a “notice of termination” within a period that varies from 1 to 8 weeks, depending on your seniority. (This period could be longer if 10 or more people are affected by the collective dismissal.) If this deadline cannot be met, for example because the activities of the company will not resume, your employer must normally pay you an indemnity equivalent. Attention : you must work for your employer for at least 3 months to be entitled to this period or to this allowance. Your employer must also pay you what is owed to you : overtime, accumulated vacation, etc

Can you refuse to return to work ?

The act provides that a worker may refuse to work if his job performance is dangerous to him or to another person. This is what is called a ” right of refusal “.

If you decide to use your right of withdrawal, you must immediately notify your employer and your union representative (if you belong to one) explaining why you refuse to work.

To know

The law was not written in view of a global pandemic… The mere presence of a virus like the COVID-19 would not be a sufficient reason to refuse to work if your employer takes the measures necessary sanitary. Your state of health may, however, be taken into consideration. Each refusal of work is analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

Your employer can offer you solutions. If he does not agree with your refusal to work or if the situation is dangerous, you may contact the standards Commission, equity, health and safety in the workplace (CNESST). An inspector will visit your workplace and determine if you have the legal right to refuse to work.

Children at home : if you can’t return to work

If your employer asks you to return to work, you need to normally accept to keep your job. This can be difficult if your children are at home.

Pandemic or not, the law states that you can take 10 days of leave for family reasons. The first 2 days can be paid if you work for this employer for 3 months or more. If your absence is to be prolonged beyond 10 days, it is better to discuss with your employer to see if some arrangements are possible. For example, to delay your return to work, work fewer hours per week, etc


If you voluntarily leave your employment, you will no longer be eligible to the Benefit of canadian emergency, or employment insurance.

Retour au travail: à n’importe quelle condition?

Informational text – This text is not legal advice; it is recommended to consult with a lawyer or a notary public to such a notice. Éducaloi is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inform Quebecers of their rights and obligations in a clear language”.

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