Greenhouse Canada

Federal government updates compensation required for SAWP workers

April 6, 2020  By Greenhouse Canada

After releasing requirements for employers with foreign workers last week, the Canadian federal government has followed up with answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The Western Agriculture Labour Initiative (WALI) highlights that employers must pay SAWP employees a minimum of 30 hours per week for each of the two weeks of mandatory quarantine upon arrive. “This is a change from previous guidance, which merely stated that employers must adhere to the terms of their contracts.”

The update includes further details on the payment of wages during the 14-day quarantine period. Important areas of note include:

  • Employers are responsible for paying their temporary foreign workers for a minimum 30 hours per week during self-isolation, and at the rate of pay specified on the Labour Market Impact Assessment. This is consistent with the TFW Program’s policy, which indicates that reasonable employment needs are a full time workload (for example, a minimum of 30 hours per week)
  • The employer can withhold standard contract deductions (for example Employment Insurance, housing, transportation, etc.) as per applicable Program stream requirements. The employer is not allowed to deduct any additional amounts due to the self-isolation period
  • To clarify previous guidance (dated March 27, 2020)This requirement will also apply to workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the 14-day period of paid self-isolation will be in addition to the minimum 240 hours of pay as specified in the SAWP contract

In a letter to TFW employers, Minister of Health, Carla Qualtrough also noted that, “penalties of up to $750K can be levied against a temporary foreign worker for non-compliance with an Emergency Order made under the Quarantine Act. Further, a person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening this Act or the regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1,000,000 or to imprisonment of up to three years, or to both.”

She also adds that, “While recognizing many employers, especially those in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, have traditionally had difficulty recruiting and hiring Canadians, these are exceptional times and many Canadians find themselves out of work. Employers are strongly encouraged to continue to recruit Canadians in available jobs as part of a comprehensive approach to supporting Canada’s food security.”

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