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Pandemic Planning and your group benefits. COVID-19

Leading through crisis means recognizing the massive benefit you have provided both your employees and your corporation. Benefits are a strategic part of pandemic planning.

EMPLOYMENT LAW: COVID-19, and its effects on your operations and employees

Please link through to the Bishop Mckenzie LLP legal outline for crisis management. This will answer a lot of questions concerning what to do and how it will impact the corporation and business flow long term.

Items such as:

“Are you required to pay employees while off due to COVID-19?” or

“Are employees required to work from home when requested?”

Please click here for more information

TEMPORARY LAYOFF & BENEFIT CONTINUATION

Many employers have had to lay staff off temporarily and the question arises,” how long do I retain their benefits?”

First thing to remember, what you do for one sets the template on a go forward basis. So if you choose to retain benefits for one segment for a certain period of time, that becomes the standard moving forward. All information is always subject to your particular policy provisions and insurance provider.

  1. By and large, during this time, you have three options:Continue all benefits–more on potential restrictions of coverage below
  2. Continue all benefits, except disability
  3. Terminate all benefits effective the date of layoff, temporary or otherwise

For a temporary layoff, both Short and Long Term Disability can be extended for up to 31 days; however, a claim would not be payable until later of the expected return to work date and the end of the waiting period.

All other benefits can be extended up to six-months.

Short Term Disabilty (STD)For those plans which currently include Short Term Disability, you have now protected those employees who will be there through the crisis and when “normality” returns. In the event that they need to be quarantined or contract the virus, there will be the protection of their salary.

Most plans include coverage at 66.67% of gross weekly salary, to a stipulated weekly maximum, for 17-weeks (or longer, depending on the policy).

Always depending on the insurance carrier, for those corporations who do not presently include Short Term Disability and now want to include this coverage on a go forward basis, this can be done with the caveat of the “pre-existing conditions clause”. This means all future claims after the effective date would be eligible for claim, but any existing staff who may require quarantine or have contracted the virus prior to the effective date of coverage would be exempt from filing a claim.

All claims are treated on a case by case basis as they occur according to the terms of the policy and the insurance provider.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Without doubt, this is an unprecedented stressful time period for all Canadians. Employees want to be at work and at their best to cope. Keeping them mentally healthy is as important as keeping them physically safe.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, employees may experience feelings of discomfort, which impacts concentration, productivity, and even disrupting sleep patterns. For plans which include this coverage, they can rely upon the EAP to assist all employee members through their fears, calm stress, and provide direction for coping. Both digital and phone in methods are already in place where an in-person visit is not advisable.

When benefit plans include an EAP, this is 24-7 coverage for members in need of guidance to keep them actively at work when we need them most.

Pharmacy

COVID-19 is a global pandemic and continues to evolve daily. Once we adjust to the new “normal” and start treating people impacted by the virus, pharmacy will become an even more necessary part of coverage as it is now for most Canadians.

In addition to the impact of Coronavirus and whatever treatment will be made available, people’s current need for maintenance and other pharmaceutical quota is a continued concern. The Canadian Pharmacists Association released a notice stating that pharmacists  are mindful about the need to carefully manage the drug supply to weather some of the long-term impacts of the disease across the globe.

While there are no known drug shortages that have been confirmed as a result of COVID-19, to ensure supply is managed responsibly, they have recommended a 30-day supply of medications for patients, unless clinically justified. 

Further information is available clicking here.


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Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment, taxation, legal vary accordingly. Please seek legal, accounting and human resources counsel from qualified professionals to make certain your legal/accounting/compliance interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.