Can I refuse to work to home school my kids to avoid them going back to school?
As schools in Ontario are going to open, many parents may still want to keep their children back home to avoid Covid-19. As a result, we have received questions regarding whether their parents can refuse to work because they want to take care of their children back home.
A parent may lose their job if they refuse to work. Employers have a duty to accommodate their employees, including accommodating their family needs, such as taking care of their children. At the same time, employees also need to take reasonable alternatives in order to work.
As Ontario is gradually reopening, putting children back to school can be regarded as a reasonable alternative to home schooling. An employee who refuses to work simply because they prefer their children to stay at home may be regarded as resigning from their job. The consequences can be severe. You will not be entitled to termination pay, such as pay in lieu of notice, and the employees will not access to government benefits such as CERB, EI or future programs that require the employees lose their job involuntarily.
There may be exceptions. Children with compromised immune system, going back to school may not be a reasonable alternative, if under a doctor’s advice. In such a situation employee should consult a qualified and experience employment lawyer before refusing to work. While accommodation is possible, incorrectly assuming it is required may be a costly mistake.
At Hum Law we are committed to prompt action to protect your rights.
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