Information Regarding Lay-Offs for Sheet Metal, Roofers and EPSCA

Lay Offs Due to COVID-19 Sheet Metal

Lay-Off due to COVID-19 Roofers

Lay-Offs Due to COVID-19 EPSCA

March 16, 2020


Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers Local 537 is committed to ensuring the ongoing health and safety of members in the midst of the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation.

Local 537 members should continue to think ahead about the actions that they can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of any illness, especially respiratory infections like COVID-19. If members are experiencing symptoms of a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, they should stay home and contact the government and public health services. In an effort to reduce the prospects of community spread, members should also take steps to try and minimize close contact with others to the extent possible and make a conscious effort to engage in frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette.

Currently the risk of contracting the virus in Canada and across many regions of the world remains relatively low. Local members should keep up to date with the continually developing health risks by consulting reliable government and public health service sources, including:


With spring time typically serving as a time for personal travel, Local 537 encourages members engaging in any international travel to follow public health authority directives and engage in self-isolation upon return to Canada even in circumstances where no symptoms may be immediately evident.

The following are important workplace considerations that all members should be aware of:

  • Where an employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to work, an employer must grant any applicable (unpaid) leave to the employee under the Employment Standards Act. Employers may not terminate an employee or otherwise discriminate against an employee due to physical disability (which included certain illnesses) under the Human Rights code.
  • Depending on the situation, an employer may find it necessary to close or suspend business and has a lawful right to do so.
  • It has yet to be determined conclusively whether employers will be required to compensate employees in circumstances where an employer continues to operate but holds an employee without symptoms out of work.
  • The Federal Government announced that it will be waiving the otherwise mandatory one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits for workers who are in quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19. At this time, the Federal Government has not clarified what evidence will be necessary in order to qualify for the EI sick benefits and/or whether such benefits will be payable in circumstances of voluntary self-isolation.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of its workers. If employees run the risk of becoming infected at work, an employer must provide personal protective equipment as deemed necessary.

Where an employee has a reasonable basis to believe that COVID-19 presents a dangerous workplace condition, employees may be able to refuse to attend work or perform certain duties. In the event of a work refusal, an employer must engage in an investigation into the concerns giving rise to the refusal and, if appropriate, implement measures to eliminate or reduce any identified workplace dangers. Any such investigation will be based upon the scientific understanding of COVID-19 at the time as well as any specific facts in the individual workplace. Employees are entitled to be free from reprisal when properly exercising a reasonably based work refusal.

To the extent any Local 537 member has any specific workplace health and safety concern, Local 537 urges members to contact Local 537 office at (905)528-8737 or call our toll free # 1-888-368-4443.

In an effort to reduce the prospects of community spread and also protect the health and safety of Local 537 staff, Local 537’s office will not be accepting any member visits until further notice. Members wishing to pay their dues while the office remains closed to visitors may do so by calling the Local 537 office and paying dues by Credit Card or to get instructions on how to set up Online payments, or cheque can be mailed to 479 Main Street East, Hamilton, ON L8N 1K1

If you require any other information or documents including work permits, you can email us at smw537@smwlocal537.ca.

Also, all classes at the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers Training Centre in Oakville have been suspended until further notice. Members who are in classes can contact the Sheet Metal Workers Training Centre for more information at (905) 829-5655. Further updates will be posted on the Provincial Training Website at: http://www.osmwtc.com/index.php:

Local 537 will continue to monitor the situation, keep members updated and take all steps necessary to ensure the ongoing health and safety of members.

Fraternally yours,

Scott McQueen

Business Manager/F.S.T.












Please be advised that effective August 1, 2019 we are introducing a new Member Assistance Program!  Please see below for more information.

New Member Assistance Program