CERB a top reason workers refuse to return to work: CFIB
Emergency benefit appears to be impeding small companies from staffing up as they reopen their businesses.
TORONTO — The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been an important backstop for employees laid off or unable to work during the pandemic lock down, but it appears to be impeding small companies from staffing up as they reopen their businesses.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reports a survey of small business staffing issues reveals only one third of firms report they are at normal staffing levels, and one quarter are having a hard time finding the staff they need to operate. The chief reason is a preference for CERB (62%) among those collecting the emergency benefit.
“Staffing is one of the many challenges for small businesses trying to get back to normal,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “More than a quarter (27%) of small firms report that some of their laid-off staff have refused to return to work when recalled.”
Of those who have had staff refuse to return to work, other reasons include:
• They are concerned about their own physical health or that of their family (47%).
• They are concerned about childcare obligations (27%).
• They do not feel there are enough hours or work available (16%).
• They prefer the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) (11%).
• They are concerned about taking public transportation (7%).
CFIB has urged the government to make changes to the federal aid programs that transitions people to work using the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as a step towards unsubsidized employment.
“While CFIB is pleased the government has extended the wage subsidy until December, details on how the program will work are desperately needed. It is crazy that employers do not even know if they will qualify for the July subsidy period while we are half-way through the month,” Kelly added.
CFIB recommends the following:
• Allowing more businesses to participate in CEWS by removing or reducing the 30% revenue drop test or by creating a sliding scale to allow those with lower revenue drops to access a smaller subsidy
• Continuing CERB benefits for those who need them, but requiring recipients to be available and looking for work, and ensuring benefits stop if a worker is offered a new job or their old job back, unless they or a family member are sick.
• Allowing CERB recipients to earn more while retaining some of their benefit so they are not discouraged from working more hours.
CFIB represents small and medium-sized businesses.