We have had many members ask what the difference is from a workplace standpoint between the Stay-at-Home Order (which has now expired) and the move back into the Colour Coded Framework in Ontario. Peel Region moved into the Grey-Lockdown Zone on March 8, 2021.
This is provided for information only and is not legal opinion or legal advice. It is general guidance to help employers during this time.
The Stay At Home Order was a legal order from the Government enacted by law, which was able to be enforced by the Government. This was a step beyond “guidance” or recommendations that the Government was giving. The Grey-Lockdown Zone phase does not have the same restrictions as the Stay at Home order did for employees leaving their homes. At the same time, the employer’s legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to protect workers in a workplace is still present. So, each individual workplace should be assessed during the Grey-Lockdown, and employers should ask whether any policies during the Stay at Home lockdown period should persist during the Grey-Lockdown period.
With non-essential retail allowed to open under Grey-Lockdown, many employees will be recalled to work and thus do not have to stay at home. There is less guidance for general office workers, but that is where the “take all reasonable steps” obligation fills in the gap. Each employer needs to assess whether it is reasonable to have employees come back into the office at this time or take other steps that are reasonable to protect health and safety.