Benefits and pensions during a work stoppage

Obligation to continue coverage during strike or layoff
By Tim Mitchell
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/23/2009

Question: How would benefits and employees' pensions be affected by a strike or layoff? For example, are employers obligated to continue coverage during the strike (in the case of unionized workers) or layoff (for both union and non-union employees)? I know in the non-union context, employers can be on the hook if an employee becomes disabled during the reasonable notice period. Could similar liabilities arise for unionized employees during a strike or layoff?

Answer: There is no single answer to this question. Whether an employer must continue benefits and pension and benefits plan premiums during a legal strike or lockout will depend upon the governing labour legislation, the terms of the collective agreements before and after the work stoppage, any back-to-work agreement negotiated by the parties, the facts surrounding a particular claim for benefits and, possibly, past practice in similar situations.