Employer compliance inspections: COVID-19 program delivery
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
These instructions support the inspection process for the new COVID-19-related regulatory conditions for employers under the International Mobility Program.
These instructions must be consulted when employer compliance inspections are assessed against the conditions of section 209.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) that relate to the Quarantine Act, the Emergency Act or the provincial laws that govern public health in response to COVID-19. These instructions should be reviewed in conjunction with the following program delivery instructions:
- Employer compliance inspections
- Application of consequences where an employer is found non-compliant with the conditions
- Application of consequences where an employer is found non-compliant with the conditions – Assessing the severity of violation
- Conditions and validity period on work permits (temporary workers)
On this page
- New employer conditions
- Employer inspections
- Provincial and territorial health authorities and orders
New employer conditions
- Compliance with the Emergencies Act and Quarantine Act: Subparagraph R209.2(1)(a)(v) stipulates that employers must not do anything to prevent their employee from complying with requirements under the Emergencies Act or the Quarantine Act, including requiring the foreign national to do anything that is contrary to those requirements.
- Compliance with provincial public health responses: Subparagraph R209.2(1)(a)(vi) stipulates that employers must not do anything to prevent their employee from complying with the requirements of any provincial law that regulates public health in response to COVID-19.
- Retention of wages during self-isolation or quarantine: Subparagraph R209.2(1)(a)(vii) requires employers to provide the wages as set out in the offer of employment during any period of self-isolation or quarantine upon entry to Canada as required by an order made under section 58 of the Quarantine Act. The wages must be substantially the same as those set out in the offer of employment.
Employers under the International Mobility Program, unlike some employers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, are not required to provide accommodations or incur additional costs related to COVID-19 other than to pay the wages beginning at the period of self-isolation or quarantine upon entry to Canada, as required by the Quarantine Act, regardless of whether the foreign worker is able to work or not.
In a situation where a foreign worker falls ill after the initial period of isolation or quarantine, and there is a subsequent period of isolation as per a provincial or territorial requirement, provisions of sick leave or other appropriate leave apply.
Teleworking during quarantine is allowed if the worker is compliant with the Quarantine Act and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines throughout the quarantine period. This is applicable if all of the following apply:
- the position and type of work are suitable for teleworking while respecting the Quarantine Act requirements
- the work and tasks comply with what is stipulated in the employment contract or offer of employment for the International Mobility Program
- the temporary foreign worker has the equipment to perform their work from their quarantine location
In this section
- Inspection triggers
- Selection for inspection
- Desk inspections
- Inspection period
- Justification of non-compliance
Under the new paragraphs R209.5(d) and (e), an employer may be selected for inspection if either of the following conditions are met:
- IRCC or Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is notified of an introduction or spread of a communicable disease, as defined in section 2 of the Quarantine Act, at any place or premises where the foreign worker performs work
- an employer employs a foreign worker who is or was subject to an order or regulation made under the Emergencies Act or the Quarantine Act
Selection for inspection
An employer can be selected for inspection if any of the conditions under section R209.5 are met at any time within 6 years of the work permit being issued, including the mandatory isolation or quarantine period. As per paragraph R209.2(1)(b), employers are required to
- provide accurate information and retain documents related to compliance for 6 years
- comply with the conditions imposed under subsection R209.4(1), including providing required documents
For the COVID-19 pandemic, a list of employers chosen for inspection will be generated by the Operations Planning and Performance Branch (OPPB), provided those employers have had a temporary worker who was required to quarantine or isolate under the Quarantine Act upon entry to Canada on or after April 20, 2020.
Employers cannot be found non-compliant with subparagraphs R209.2(1)(a)(v) to (vii) for actions taken before the coming into force of the new regulations (April 20, 2020). It is expected that the number of incoming temporary workers will be small. However, if further selection is required, it will be determined based on risk and processing capacity.
During the COVID-19 pandemic situation, ESDC has determined that it will not conduct on-site inspections; however, a request to other authorities may be initiated in situations where IRCC has been notified of one or both of the following:
- a violation under the Quarantine Act or Emergencies Act
- criminal offences
Case Management Branch (CMB) officers at IRCC will conduct desk inspections for compliance with the new COVID-19 conditions; however, if adverse information is found when inspecting these conditions, officers may extend the scope of the inspection to include any other condition under section R209.2.
Officers may contact employers by telephone and electronic correspondence to initiate the inspection or request any additional documentation required. Electronic correspondence may be used if prior consent was given for any documented correspondence, including for communicating final decisions and notices of preliminary finding.
Communicating with the employer
- Phone call: The CMB officer will call the employer to initiate the inspection, inform the employer about the use of epost Connect and send the introductory email from CMB. This email will include the epost Connect user guide and the customer service telephone number for inquiries.
- epost Connect: Following the phone call, the Selected for Inspection Letter will be sent via epost Connect. This letter will include
- the reason for the inspection, including the inspection trigger and program conditions being inspected
- a request for documentation and information that will provide proof of compliance
- a deadline for submission of the documentation and information
The employer has 48 hours to provide the requested documentation and information. If the officer does not receive a response from the employer within 48 hours of sending the inspection letter via epost, the officer should view the conversation activity in epost to see if the employer has opened the message. If there is no activity by the employer, the officer should follow up with the employer. If the employer is having technical difficulties with epost, the officer should advise them to call the client service number in the introductory email to set up their account as soon as possible.
At the time the inspection is launched, if there is no proof available of wages for the 14-day quarantine period, the employer has up to 21 days (30 days in Quebec) to provide proof of payment.
If officers are still unable to reach the employer after the submission deadline, they may issue a notice of preliminary finding to the employer for non-compliance with any of the inspection conditions under section R209.4.
The new regulatory conditions came into force on April 20, 2020. As of that date, the period of employment covers any period of time that the worker is required to isolate or quarantine themselves on entry into Canada in accordance with an order made under the Quarantine Act.
To ensure public health under COVID-19, an inspection should be launched within the first 14 days of a temporary worker’s arrival in Canada and completed within 30 days.
The notice of preliminary finding for the new conditions is deemed received by the employer 5 days after having been sent, and the employer has 5 days to respond.
For more information, refer to Application of consequences where an employer is found non-compliant with the conditions.
Justification of non-compliance
Paragraph R203(1.1)(h) sets out a new justification that may apply if an employer has not complied with the conditions set out in any of the subparagraphs R209.2(1)(a)(v) to (vi). This justification allows for an error in interpretation made in good faith by the employer, for example, they misunderstood the Quarantine Act requirements.
Provincial and territorial health authorities and orders
This list provides provincial and territorial resources for health authorities and orders. These links will be updated as required.
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