Guidance for employers of temporary foreign workers regarding COVID-19 (Updated 22 April 2020)
- Further to recent announcements by the Government of Canada to facilitate the entry of foreign workers while taking steps to minimize the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), this document outlines the Guidance for employers of temporary foreign workers
- Like all Canadians, most temporary foreign workers entering Canada are required to follow certain obligations, including quarantine (visit the Resources section of www.canada.ca/coronavirus to learn more). Employers must not prevent workers from meeting those requirements in any way
- In addition, employers have an important role to play in helping to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19. This document is intended to assist employers in understanding how to fulfill that role, with a view to helping to protect the health and safety of Canadians and workers
- As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it is recommended that the following website be consulted regularly for the latest public health information: www.canada.ca/coronavirus
Criteria for all employers
- The worker’s period of employment begins upon their arrival to Canada and includes the initial mandatory quarantine period. This means that the employer must comply with all laws, policies and Guidance for employers regarding the employer-employee relationship during that period
- The employer is required to not do anything that prevents the worker from meeting their requirements of orders under the Quarantine Act, including the mandatory quarantine. This includes not making the worker interact with workers or others who are not in quarantine and could include assisting the worker with arranging access to food, medicine, and/or basic supplies
- The employer must pay the worker regular pay and benefits for the quarantine period. Specifically, the employer must pay the worker for a minimum of 30 hours per week at the hourly rate of pay specified on the Labour Market Impact Assessment and/or offer of employment. The employer can withhold standard contract deductions (for example Employment Insurance, housing, transportation, etc.) as per applicable Program stream requirements. The employer is not allowed to deduct any additional amounts due to the quarantine period unless agreed to by the worker (such as for food). Proof of wages paid should be kept. This requirement also applies to workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the 14-day period of paid quarantine will be in addition to the minimum 240 hours of pay as specified in the SAWP contract
- In most cases, the employer cannot authorize the worker to work during the quarantine period, even if requested by the worker. There are exceptions for those deemed as providing an essential service by the Chief Public Health Officer. In addition, the employer cannot ask the worker to perform other duties during that period, such as building repairs or administrative tasks
- The employer is asked to monitor the health of workers who are in quarantine, as well as any employee who becomes sick after the quarantine period. If a worker becomes symptomatic at any time, the employer should contact local public health officials.
- The employer is asked to provide workers with the tools needed to practice good hygiene. This includes access to facilities that enable them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water, providing soap, and providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled
- The employer is asked to provide information to the worker on COVID-19 (see www.canada.ca/coronavirus for resources) either on or before their first day of quarantine. With a view to promoting understanding by all workers, it is suggested that information be provided in a language the worker understands, and that consideration be given to providing this information in writing and/or orally (for example by phone, etcetera), as appropriate. Several resources are available online. In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada has some materials available in several languages for use, which can be accessed by calling 1-833-784-4397 or emailing
- Like all Canadians, the employer is asked to report a violation to the Quarantine Act on the part of a worker in quarantine or isolation to local law enforcement. This includes workers that do not respect the mandatory quarantine period
- Throughout the course of this pandemic, all people in Canada, including employers, are expected to follow the latest public health requirements and/or guidance from the Government of Canada and the province/territory in which they operate. Importantly, the employer is required to not do anything that prevents the worker from meeting their requirements under provincial/territorial public health laws related to COVID-19. In addition, as per Guidance for employers, employers are required to follow all applicable federal and provincial/territorial employment and health and safety laws. This includes new provisions in several jurisdictions for job-protected sick leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
Additional criteria for employers who provide accommodations
- The employer is required to house quarantining workers in accommodations that are separate from those not subject to quarantine. This may require finding alternate accommodations (for example hotel) if this requirement cannot be met
- The employer can house workers who are subject to quarantine together, but the housing must enable them to be 2 meters apart from each other at all times. For example, beds must be at least 2 meters apart. Shared facilities (for example bathroom, kitchen, living space) are allowed, provided that there is sufficient space in the accommodations for workers to respect the quarantine requirements. If this requirement cannot be met, alternate accommodations (for example hotel) may be required. In the best interest of all parties, it is recommended that date-stamped photos be taken of the facilities, including the bedroom, to demonstrate compliance
- Note: If new workers are housed for quarantine in the same accommodations as others who are in quarantine, the clock resets to the day the most recent worker arrived. This is to account for the potential exposure of the new person from outside of the country to those already here
- The employer should ensure that surfaces in the accommodations are cleaned and disinfected regularly. It is suggested that surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas be cleaned and disinfected daily, or more often as required and that a log be maintained. Workers can do this, as it constitutes essential care. The employer can also use the services of a professional cleaner if desired. Regardless, the employer is required to provide the cleaning materials (e.g. paper towels, household cleaning and disinfection products, dish soap, and laundry soap)
- The employer is asked to post information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the accommodations, including information that outlines best practices for workers in maintaining the bathroom and other washing facilities. It is suggested that such information be posted in bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas and that it be posted in the language of the worker. Several resources are available online (visit the Resources section of www.canada.ca/coronavirus). In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada has some materials available in several languages for use, which can be accessed by calling 1-833-784-4397 or emailing
- For the duration of the quarantine period, the employer is asked to ensure that the accommodations do not prevent the worker from avoiding contact with older adults (65+) and those with medical conditions who are at risk of developing a serious illness.
- If a worker becomes symptomatic at any time, the employer is required to immediately provide accommodations that enable the worker to be isolated from others, including a private bedroom and private bathroom
If you have any more queries, you can ask your question in the forum of Canadians Live.