If you’re a business owner like me, then you know that your company runs on people. Whether that’s third party suppliers getting you the supplies and material you need, or whether it’s your team of dedicated employees. Organizations only work because there are people around who are there to make it work.
That’s why it can be devastating to have to let them go.
During an economic crisis, all bets are off. As a business owner, you are forced to look at your balance sheet and calculate what the next few months are going to be like for your business. Sometimes an emergency business plan to survive a crisis involves having to let some employees go to cut down cost.
The COVID-19 crisis has not only caused a severe economic crisis but it has also lit a worldwide viral pandemic. Small businesses in Canada have not been immune to this with 40% of business owners at risk of their business failing.
If you are one of the business owners that has let employees go or whether you are planning for it, it is important to understand how you can help them transition into an economy with limited job prospects due to the economic climate. The most important program to be aware of for your employees leaving your team is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or “CERB”.
What is the CERB program?
The CERB program was one of the first initiatives by the Canadian government to provide support to those who lost their income due to the economic crisis. The program is structured as a 4-week fixed payment period for which an eligible applicant may receive $2,000. Those who are affected can apply for CERB for up to 4 consecutive terms, totaling 16 weeks.
This initiative has become a cornerstone of the government’s efforts in reducing and mitigating the impact of the economic crisis on consumers.
Lost income is a major concern for those employees being let go. It means that they may have trouble paying rent and any debts they might have had. That’s why it is important to make sure that the employees leaving your team are aware of the CERB program.
Who can apply?
Although the program is built to assist employees who have been directly affected by COVID, there are certain program criteria that must be met in order for them to be eligible for the 4-week coverage.
To be eligible, an employee must meet the following conditions:
- Has not already applied for EI benefits from Service Canada or the CERB program to cover the desired 4-week period.
- Did not quit their job voluntarily.
- Minimum 15 years of age.
- Earned a minimum of $5,000 before taxes in the last 12 months or in 2019.
- They will earn less than $1,000 in income for at least 14 days in a row during the 4-week coverage period.
One of the following:
- Your work hours have been reduced due to COVID-19
- You have stopped or will stop working because of COVID
- You are unable to work because of COVID-19, for example because you are taking care of someone
- Your EI benefits have run out.
How do they apply?
The employee will be responsible for applying for CERB as it is not a program for business owners but rather for those individuals whose income has been directly affected by the pandemic.
In order for your employee to apply for CERB after meeting the eligibility requirements, they must sign in to the CRA My Account or call the automated toll-free line. They will be able to do so through the following link:
Apply for the CERB program
When it is time
Letting an employee go is a tough experience. This individual has committed a big portion of their attention, time and efforts to your company and your mission, so it is important to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The only thing you can do as a business owner, is help them transition into the new reality of an economic crisis.