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Now that daycares can re-open, can my employer force me to return to work?

Now that daycares can re-open, can my employer force me to return to work?
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Now that daycares can re-open, can my employer force me to return to work?
June 16, 2020

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was created for people who stopped working because of COVID-19. This included people who stopped working to take care of their children because schools and daycares closed.

Read about the rules for who’s eligible in Who can get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and how do I apply?  

Now that daycares have started to re-open, your employer may expect you to return to work.

Reasons for not wanting to go back to work

If you don’t want to return to work, it will probably not be enough to say that you’re afraid that your child will catch COVID-19.

If you have another reason for why you cannot send your child to daycare, you may have more success being able to stay on the CERB.

Everyone’s situation is different. But you might have a good claim for being unable to work because of COVID-19 if you:

  • are immunocompromised, which means that you have a weakened immune system
  • care for a child or parent who’s immunocompromised and you don’t want to put them at risk of getting COVID-19 by sending your child to daycare
  • cannot find childcare because of the new rules that reduce the number of daycare spaces
  • qualify under Ontario's Employment Standards Act to take a leave from work because you cannot get childcare or must care for a child because of COVID-19

There may be other reasons why you cannot work because you have to care for your children. 

Having proof to show the government

The government is starting to check whether people who are getting the CERB really were eligible. If they decide that you got the CERB when you should not have:

  • they can make you pay the money back, and
  • they may start charging people fines or threatening jail time.

If you cannot find the childcare you need, make sure to keep a record of any conversations you have with childcare providers. It will be helpful to:

  • take notes about who you talk to and when you talk to them
  • save any emails that show that your daycare space is not available

Also keep records if you don’t want to send your child to daycare because of the risk to a family member who has a weakened immune system. If possible, get a doctor’s note that says the person has a compromised immune system.

You’ll need this type of information if the government checks to see why you were getting the CERB.  

Getting legal help

This can be a complicated problem.

If you cannot work because you have to look after your children and you’re not sure if qualify for CERB, get legal help.

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