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COVID-19 and Employment Issues

Employment law

Employment law can be broken into two distinct categories. You must be aware of which is applicable to you to best understand your situation. These areas are (1) non-unionized positions (including management positions not covered by collective bargaining agreements); and (2) unionized positions.

non-union employment law

If you are not part of a union or collective bargaining unit then your legal rights and remedies are determined by employment law. This is law that comes from three distinct areas.

Firstly, legislation such as the Labour Standards Act set minimum standards that must be followed. You can  access the Labour Standards Act online here:

Secondly, your employment contract or “terms of service” may set out different rights that you and your employer have in circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This may include what type of notice of termination you are to be given, what your pay may be, etc. You are legally able to opt out of some of the Labour Standards Act by agreeing to certain terms of service.

Lastly, the “common law’, or “caselaw” sets out other provisions for employment law. This may include what appropriate notice of termination of employment may be, or what you should be paid in compensation for being terminated with or without appropriate notice. This is determined on a case by case basis and is ultimately determined by a court of law. You can look up caselaw online through websites such as “Canlii”, which can be accessed here:

Consider referencing your terms of service/employment contract, the Labour Standards Act, and caselaw to determine what your legal rights may be in given situations. It is recommended to seek legal advice if you have questions or concerns about your employment.

union employment law

If you are part of a union or collective bargaining unit then your legal rights and remedies are determined mostly by your collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Your CBA will set out what the process for addressing grievances and legal disputes between you and your employer are. Consider consulting with your union to determine what possible recourse you may have. You may have to first go through a meditation process to address these concerns. Every unionized position must first follow a CBA grievance process before it can proceed to court. It is recommended to seek legal advice if you have concerns surrounding your unionized employment.

please note

What appropriate severance pay or notice of termination of employment may be for your situation is not something that the Public Legal Information Association of NL can determine.

As the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges to businesses and employers, this situation will be continuously evolving. If you have concerns about your employment, pay, or termination, please seek legal advice to determine what is appropriate in your circumstances.


The Government of Canada is working to provide income supplements and employment insurance to those impacted by COVID-19. At this time, these programs are being developed and being evaluated by appropriate government agencies. To apply for employment insurance and other social benefits, please visit the Government of Canada website to determine your eligibility:
You may also want to review the Service Canada Assistance downloadable sheet on this page under “Useful Resources” to help guide your application.