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“Human rights across Canada and the jurisprudence makes it clear you have to accommodate childcare needs,” he said, noting that a company cannot force an employee to come back to the office or workplace if he or she needs to care for children.
However, Levitt said, “a lot of employers are desperate to get people back to work,” and if a company goes out and finds a daycare, a day camp or a nanny, then those employees are no longer able to refuse a return to work.
“If they do that, the employees cannot say, ‘I don’t want my kids mixing with 10 other kids and who knows where they’ve been,’” he said.
The companies currently under the most pressure to bring employees back are in customer-facing industries and the services sector, said Aline Ayoub, owner of Aline Ayoub HR Consulting in Toronto.
“Organizations that don’t necessarily need to be facing the client, they’re not necessarily in a big rush,” she said.