May 2020: The public health response to COVID-19 has included a shift to working from home in an effort to limit physical contact and slow the spread of infection. However, working from home is not feasible for everyone, such as workers in non-essential services who now face under- or unemployment, and essential services workers who now face risks of exposure to infection directly in the workplace or indirectly in the community (e.g. while commuting to and from work). Employer-paid benefits, such as sick leave, are also an integral part of the public health response by
supporting workers to stay at home if they are ill or experiencing symptoms, thereby reducing the risk of workplace and community transmission of COVID-19.
We conducted an analysis of existing Statistics Canada General Social Survey 2016 data to estimate the number of workers who cannot work from home, and the number of workers without employer paid sick leave benefits. The purpose was also to investigate if the distribution of these workers varied by employment type and by socioeconomic status to highlight workers in vulnerable circumstances during a global pandemic.
Overall, 35% of workers in Canadian provinces in 2016 reported that their job cannot be done from home and 58% reported no employer-paid sick leave benefits. Download our research brief with more results of our analysis: Research Brief: Ability to work from home and paid sick leave benefits by precarious employment and socioeconomic status