COVID-19 Update #4: Working from home, applying for EI / Emergency Care Benefit
Mar 20, 2020
This update was posted on March 20, 2020. Because this situation is evolving rapidly, we encourage you to visit the MGEU's COVID-19 Information page for the most up-to-date information.
A message from MGEU elected leadership & staff
Without question, it's been a challenging week for all of us.
As we all feel our way through this "new normal," please know that our union has been working closely with employers to:
- promote working-from-home arrangements wherever possible;
- ensure social distancing and appropriate hygiene procedures are in place for those who must go into work; and
- minimize the negative impact on those who have no choice but to stay home.
Over the coming weeks, we'll continue to update our COVID-19 Q&A and Info Page each day -- or each hour! -- as new information becomes available.
We'd like to thank all of you who remain dedicated to serving Manitobans both behind the scenes and on the front lines.
Together (even if we're distant right now), we will get through this.
Working from home
As of March 20, 2020
The MGEU is urging all employers to actively pursue work-from-home options to allow members to keep their maximum “social distance.”
Many factors influence the decision to establish a work-at-home situation, including:
- the type of work, and whether it can effectively be done away from the workplace; and
- access to appropriate equipment such as a laptop and a remote connection.
If you feel working from home is a viable alternative for you, you should speak to your supervisor or manager about how this could be arranged. Legally each employer does have the right to determine its own policy. If you have concerns about your employer’s approach to this issue, you should contact the MGEU Resource Centre.
What to do if you must be off work and cannot work from home
As of March 20, 2020
There are a number of reasons why you may need to be off work related to COVID-19:
- Family care obligations due to family illness, family isolation and school/child care closures;
- Isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure or symptoms;
- Lay-off or business closure due to COVID-19 effects;
- Illness due to COVID-19.
Right now, you have three options to minimize any loss of income when you must be off work:
- Talk to your supervisor or manager about utilizing your accrued benefits — such as sick time, banked time, and family-related or vacation leave — to minimize the financial impact of not being at work.
- Talk to your supervisor or manager about whether short term disability coverage is available;
- Apply for federal Employment Insurance (EI) and/or the federal Emergency Care Benefit.
It is usually in your best interest to first exhaust all employer paid income protection (option #1) since it replaces a higher percentage of your earnings (most cover 100% of earnings) and protects health benefits coverage and pension if premiums are paid from wages.
More about applying for EI and/or the Emergency Care Benefit
If you are off work because of illness, injury or quarantine relating to COVID-19 and do not qualify for further benefits from your employer:
You can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
Benefits are payable for a maximum of 15 weeks with a maximum weekly benefit of $573. The one-week wait period has been waived by EI for sickness claims associated with COVID-19.
Call 1-833-381-2725 to have the one week wait period waived on your EI sickness claim. For more information, visit: www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
If you are off work because:
- you are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits;
- you are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits;
- you are a parent with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether you qualify for EI or not...
You can apply for the Federal government’s Emergency Care Benefit (announced on March 18, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic).
The Emergency Care Benefit will provide up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks, as a flat payment. The benefit will be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency and applications will be available in April 2020 through the following channels:
- By accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
- By accessing it from their secure MyService Canada Account;
- By calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.
You can find out more about how to apply at www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.
NOTE for parents home with children: the Federal government has also announced increases to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and the Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC) to provide families with additional financial help.
As these unprecedented events unfold, the provisions noted above may change.
Please contact your respective employer and benefits provider for the most up-to-date information.