Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I refuse to work if I am worried about COVID-19?

    If your work is an essential service, you are expected to show up like usual. If you don’t, your employer could take disciplinary action against you.

    You can refuse to work if you believe the work is putting you in real and imminent harm. However, the risk that you could be exposed to the virus is likely not enough to refuse to work. The threat of harm must be greater than just a possibility.

    If you have an existing condition that puts you at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, speak to your employer about your concerns. They likely have a duty to accommodate you under The Human Rights Code.

    For more information, contact the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

  • Can I be laid off during COVID-19?

    Yes, but a lay off is different from a termination. A lay off is a temporary disruption of employment. The employer does not have to give notice and does not have to pay you during a lay off.

    If a lay off lasts longer than 8 weeks in a 16 week period, it becomes a termination and the employer has to give you notice. If your employer continues to pay your wages or pays benefits, the lay off does not become a termination.

    The time between March 1, 2020 and when the state of emergency was declared on March 20, 2020 is not counted as part of the 8 weeks in a 16 week period.

    For more information see Employment Standards COVID-19 fact sheet:

    View website:

  • Can my boss reduce my pay during this crisis?

    It depends. If your pay has been reduced but you are still working the same number of hours, this could be cause for constructive dismissal. This means your boss has changed your job in such a significant way that they have effectively forced you to quit. If you make a claim for constructive dismissal, you may be eligible for payment of your regular wages for the notice period. For more information, see our FAQ page about ending employment or contact Employment Standards.

    If your boss wants to reduce your pay during the COVID-19 crisis, try talking to them about also reducing your hours to match the reduced pay.

    If your pay has been reduced, you may be eligible for EI to top up your reduced pay. If you make less than $1000, you may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

  • Can I be terminated during COVID-19?

    Yes, but unless your employer is terminating you for cause, your employer must give you notice, or pay instead of notice. How much notice or pay you are entitled to depends on how long you have been working for your employer. The chart below sets out the notice periods under the Employment Standards Code,

    Length of Employment | Amount of Notice
    More than 30 days, less than a year | 1 week
    1 year to 3 years | 2 weeks
    3 years to 5 years | 4 weeks
    5 years to 10 years | 6 weeks
    Over 10 years | 8 weeks

    If you are a long-term employee, you may be entitled to more notice or pay instead of notice. You should talk to an employment lawyer.

  • Can I be fired for being exposed to COVID-19?

    No. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission’s position is that COVID-19 is a disability, and therefore a protected ground under The Human Rights Code. Being fired just for having been exposed to the virus would be discrimination, and you would be entitled to file a human rights complaint.

    However, this does not prevent your employer from taking other precautions if they believe you may have been exposed to the virus, such as requiring you to work from home.

    For more information, visit the Commission’s fact sheet on COVID-19 and human rights:


  • Are there any benefits that I can apply for if I have been laid off or terminated as a result of COVID-19?

    There are various benefits available, including Employment Insurance and CERB.
    Under CERB, you will receive $500 per week, for up to 16 weeks. This is taxable income. CERB has been extended. People who do not qualify for Employment Insurance, students, seasonal workers, people whose Employment Insurance has run out as of January 1, 2020, can apply.
    You can apply online or by calling 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

    View online application.

    If you qualify for Employment Insurance, and you will be unemployed for longer than 4 months, you should apply for EI. For the first 4 months, whether you apply under CERB or EI, you will receive $2,000 per month.

    View website.

  • Who can I call for information about employment matters?

    Employment Standards Branch has information on layoffs, terminations, duties of employers, and minimum standards for employees on their website:

    View website.