Government provides additional guidance for employers of temporary foreign workers
The additional guidance clarifies that SAWP workers will be paid for a minimum of 30 hours per week during the self-isolation and this self-isolation period is outside of their original contract.
By Stephanie Gordon
The Canadian federal government provided more guidance on April 5 around the requirements for employers of temporary foreign workers (TFW), clarifying compensation, airport travel, when work can begin, and more.
The recently published “Frequently asked questions: Changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program regarding COVID-19” complements the government’s original set of employer requirements published on March 27.
The additional guidance document clarifies several aspects for employers and incoming temporary foreign workers. Namely, if workers can work during their self-isolation period and if they are exempt because agriculture and agri-food roles are considered essential services. The short answer is no. Seasonal agricultural workers are not exempt from the requirements to self-isolate for 14 days and are not allowed to work while in self-isolation. Additional considerations are further clarified in question 1, 2, 4, and 6 within the FAQ document.
There was some initial confusion about how much various temporary foreign workers would be paid during the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period. The previous March 27 guidance stated that SAWP workers would be paid during the isolation period according to their contract – this is incorrect. An employer is required to pay all TFW workers, including those within the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), for a minimum 30 hours per week during self-isolation and at the rate of pay specified on the Labour Market Impact Assessment.
An employer is required to pay all TFW workers, including those within the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), for a minimum 30 hours per week during self-isolation.
“This [30-hour] 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,” the newest guidance reads. Further clarification is provided within question 7, including more information surrounding contract deductions.
A list of Canadian government resources for temporary foreign workers and COVID-19:
- (April 7) British Columbia’s Protecting B.C. farmers and farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
- (April 5) Frequently asked questions: Changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program regarding COVID-19
- (April 1) Letter from Ministers to employers – Temporary Foreign Workers
- (March 31) Ontario Ministry of Health’s Guidance for Temporary Foreign Workers
- (March 27) Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers Regarding COVID-19
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program information found within Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada
- (March 20 release) The Government of Canada’s original update on travel exemptions for temporary foreign workers and seasonal agricultural workers
- Canada’s home page for COVID-19 information and resources: canada.ca/coronavirus
- How to isolate at home when you have COVID-19