AVOIDING PENALTIES FOR UNLAWFULLY OPERATING:
The best defence against a warning, fine or summons is to argue that the business is in fact within a category of “essential” businesses and, as a result, the penalty is unwarranted.
Some possible measures to reduce the risk of incurring a penalty include:
- evaluating whether all or portions of your business may qualify as “essential”, as this definition becomes amended from time to time - while it may not be possible to open all of your business operations, it may be possible to partially open those parts of your business which are “essential”;
- identifying the key employees who are needed to work on-site and offer them defined hours of operations, have in place safety measures to limit physical contact, and make sure that their work qualifies as an “essential” category of business; and
- providing key employees with letters indicating that they are employees at an essential business and ensure they have proper credentials to confirm to property managers or authorities in case they are questioned by by-law enforcement officers or police officers.
On April 30, 2020, the Province of Ontario provided guidelines for certain business sectors to ensure that the eventual reopening of Ontario’s economy can be done safely. The six specifically listed sectors are construction, food processing, restaurant and food services, agriculture, manufacturing and long-term care.
Ontario’s sector-specific guidelines include general public health recommendations including holding team meetings outdoors, staggering shift times and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow. These guidelines also recommend installing plexiglass barriers, increasing the air intake on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to increase air flow, maintaining frequent cleaning for public spaces, and promoting physical distancing. Businesses that are considering plans for re-opening would benefit from considering and implementing these provincial guidelines.
For more information from us about these new health and safety guidelines and the accompanying posters for your workplace, go here: http://wardlegal.ca/31587872329978