Federal Government Introduces Extension to CERB Payments

On June 16, 2020, the Federal Government announced that the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) will be extended through to the end of August 2020.

CERB provides taxable payments of $2,000 for a four-week period ($500 per week) to eligible Canadians, including those who have lost their job, are unable to work or whose hours were reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB benefit was originally scheduled to cease effective July 4, 2020.

Beginning July 5, 2020, CERB recipients will be required to sign an attestation acknowledging that the government is encouraging them to actively look for work. Although it is expected that recipients will not turn down reasonable work opportunities, recipients are not, and will not be under any obligation to accept employment opportunities. This may make it difficult for employers to have recalled employees return to work when they may be earning more money by remaining on the CERB program. A refusal to return to work when recalled usually results in an employer being able to take the position that the employee has resigned their employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating novel challenges for employers. Our labour and employment team is closely monitoring this evolving situation and can assist employers to manage COVID-19 in their workplace.