Statement from UNITE HERE Local 40 President Zailda Chan re: COVID-19 Impact on Hospitality Workers

For Immediate Release:

Over 60,000 B.C. hospitality workers are reeling from the blunt economic trauma hitting our industry due to the spread of the new coronavirus.  In the span of one week, our members and tens of thousands other hospitality workers in hotels, restaurants and food service workers who prepare meals for airlines, airport travelers, universities and resource camps have lost work, are going on long-term layoffs and are now at risk of losing their medical coverage, which is based on hours worked.  The loss of income is abrupt and painful.  And during a life-threatening global pandemic, the average hospitality worker, many of whom are women with children to support, cannot afford to also lose their medical coverage.

During this time of uncertainty, our members are pulling together to get through one of the greatest challenges our industry has ever faced.  What is missing is a commitment from hospitality employers to ensure their employees do not lose medical benefits during this unprecedented public health crisis.  Without that promise, hotel and food service workers with reduced hours or lost pay will not be able to afford prescription medicine for themselves or their family members if they become sick or exposed to COVID-19.  While we are working with a few employers who are stepping up to make sure their employees do not face a medical care gap at this critical time, too many employers are leaving hospitality workers in the lurch.

Take, for example, the hotel industry.  In Vancouver alone, thousands of hotel workers are employed by the world’s largest hotel operators in hotels owned by some of the wealthiest developers in Canada.  Until very recently, B.C.’s hotel industry enjoyed years of record revenues for much of the last decade – in part thanks to the dedicated work of union and non-union hotel workers alike.  Today, hotel companies may soon be in line asking for government assistance and other forms of tax relief.  Will employers be expected to extend medical coverage to their employees in exchange for government assistance?

While we are relieved to see federal and provincial levels of government grapple with the vast needs facing Canadian workers right now, we anticipate additional measures will be required to stem the drastic loss of jobs and income faced by workers in hospitality and other sectors of the economy.  We also urgently need employers in the industry to collaborate with us and protect the health of hospitality workers.  They can ensure workers maintain medical coverage during this crisis and help fill the gap that government is not yet prepared to fill.

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For more information, please contact: Michelle Travis, (778) 960-9785, [email protected]

COVID-19 UPDATE: UNION HEALTH BENEFITS FAQ

To download a PDF of this information, please click here.

 

How long will my Union Health Benefits last if I’ve been laid off?

All of our union members have different eligibility depending on your workplace. Please call Member Service Centre between 9am and 430pm at 604-294-4441, state your first and last name and your workplace. They will tell you if you’ve been laid off how long your current medical benefits will last.

For most employees that have been working for an average of 30-40 hours per week for the past 3-4 months, your health care benefits will continue through the end of April, or beyond.

Again, to check on your health care coverage, please contact:

Local 40 Hospitality Industry Member Service Centre

c/o Morneau

2nd Floor—411 Dunsmuir Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1X4

 

Hours of Operation: 9am to 5pm

Local Phone: 604-294-4441

Toll Free Phone: 1-800-661-2766

Fax: 604-632-9930

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.myhealthandpension.hroffice.com

What if I have health care benefits through my Employer and not through the Union?

You should contact your Employer and ask if they’ll be extending your health benefits and for how long. You should also speak to your Union Representative and Department committee member about how to pressure your Employer to do the right thing.

 

Do I have to pay Union Dues if I am laid off to keep my Health Benefits?

No. If you are laid off, you will not pay Union Dues regardless of your medical coverage.  You will be put on a withdrawal card and your health care coverage will continue as described above.

 

Will my Union Health Benefits be extended beyond my current eligibility?

Local 40 believes all Employers should be extending medical benefits in this time of crisis. Some employers across North America have already committed to extend medical benefits and we will be calling on all of our B.C. Employers to do the same. Local 40 and Union Committee members will be discussing how to ensure employers extend medical benefits soon.

 

If you would like updates on health benefits, please text Local40 to 393939.

If you have an issue that is NOT being addressed by the Member Service Centre, please contact [email protected].

COVID-19 UPDATE: For Workers Who Need to Apply for Employment Insurance

APPLYING FOR EI

Note: Benefits under Employment Insurance and other benefit programs are changing quickly as the situation with COVID-19/Coronavirus develops. This document reflects changes through March 17, 2020.

(Click here for a PDF Version of this information)

 

Am I eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)?

To qualify for regular benefits you must have received no work at all for a period of at least seven days.

You must have worked at least the following number of hours in the last 52 weeks to qualify for EI:

Vancouver Metro Area and Victoria-700 hours

Chilliwack/Harrison Hot Springs-630 hours

Kelowna/Kamloops-665 hours

Northern BC (Prince Rupert/Kitimat/Terrace/Prince George)-525 hours

 

Didn’t the Federal Government waive the 7-day waiting period?

As of now, the waiting period is ONLY waived for those that are self-quarantined as a result of the Corona Virus.

For all others the waiting period is still 7 days.

 

How much will I receive?

EI will pay out up to 55% of your regular wages, tips, bonuses, and commissions, to a maximum of $573 per week. Only amounts you have declared on your taxes will qualify.

You are entitled to between 14 and 45 weeks of benefits, depending on how many hours you have worked during the qualifying period and where you are employed.

 

How do I apply and what do I need to show?

Apply online on Service Canada’s website here:

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html

Call 1-800-206-7218 Monday-Friday 830am to 430pm PST and press 0 to speak with a representative.

You will be required to provide:

  • Names and addresses of employers, employment dates, and reason you’re no longer employed for all employers in the last 52 weeks;
  • Your full mailing address and home address, Social Insurance Number, and mother’s maiden name; and,
  • Your banking information including direct deposit information.

If you have not received your Record of Employment from your employer check Service Canada’s online website as they may have uploaded it. If not follow up with your employer – not having a Record of Employment may delay your claim.

If you are applying for EI benefits on the basis that you have been quarantined for a two-week period you will not be required to produce a medical certificate or medical note to apply and have your claim approved. However you may be required to prove you qualified at a later date, or to extend your benefits beyond the two-week quarantine period.

 

What if I work another job while receiving regular benefits?

You are still allowed to apply for and collect EI, but you may receive less.

 

How long will I have to wait to receive my benefits?

Service Canada says that it may take up to 28 days to receive your first payment. But it could be sooner.

If you are under quarantine you should call the EI Coronavirus line after applying online to attempt to have their claim prioritized. The EI Coronavirus line can be reached at 1-833-381-2725.

 

Do I have to use vacation time or sick time before I apply for EI benefits?

NO! It is your choice whether you want to use your vacation or sick time first.

 

What if I am not diagnosed with COVID-19 or ordered into quarantine by a doctor or nurse but my employer has told me to be in self-isolation?

The Federal Government has indicated that individuals in self-isolation will be eligible for EI sick benefits for a two-week period.  Employees in this situation are advised to contact the EI Coronavirus line at 1-833-381-2725 for further information.

 

What do I have to do to remain entitled?

If you are receiving EI benefits you must to update Service Canada immediately if your situation changes and you must follow reporting requirements.

You must submit reports every two weeks by the internet or telephone while receiving EI benefits. These reports include information about any earnings you had during the period, training you received, and your availability for work.

If you are receiving regular benefits you must look for employment and keep a record of who you have contacted and where you have applied for work.

 

What if I’m still getting some minimum hours but haven’t been laid off?

The Union is looking in to the possibility of taking advantage of the Government of Canada’s “Work Sharing” Program, which allows for partial EI to be collected. We will update you as we learn more.

 

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

Contact Local 40:

[email protected] or

TEXT 604-813-2105

 

2020 Membership Meetings!