As of April 19th, 2023, more than 155,000 federal public servants under the Public Service Alliance of Canada are on strike. The union is advocating for higher wages, better benefits, more anti-racism training, and remote work. But what does this mean for small business owners?
“As the threat of one of the largest federal strikes in Canadian history looms, it can’t be ignored by SMBs” says Alana Pratt, HR Advice Specialist, at BrightHR Canada. Alana shares below five ways the strike could affect SMBs. It's important for SMBs to be prepared in the event they face similar demands from their employees.
- Training and awareness on common workplace issues
One of the demands of the PSAC strike is more anti-racism training. Training and development are important to improve employee skills and job performance. It also gives staff tools to help handle common workplace issues. It also gives employees a competitive advantage, so they adapt to changes in business practices, technology, and industry trends.
- More workers may demand remote roles
If the Canadian government agrees to the union’s terms, working from home will become more common. With many federal workers working from home, more employees may begin to bring up the subject with their employers. Employers should be open to exploring the idea of offering alternate work options, such as remote or flexible work.
- Managing upward and downward changes with the right policies
As the federal strike and other factors have shown, employees' working conditions can change anytime. Whether it's an employee taking maternity leave or a new role, it's important to have the correct documents to guide such events.
For example, in Ontario, employers with 25 employees or more must have a written policy in place with respect to disconnecting from work. This policy aids in ensuring employees can balance their work and home life effectively and helps boost morale and employee retention.
- Managing unplanned absences
Work in federal offices will halt as the Canadian workers' government strike goes full swing. Although this isn’t an employee strike, it’s still important to keep in mind how workplaces are affected by employee absences.
Unexpected absences can lead to increased costs for businesses as they scramble to cover for the missing employees. It also leads to dips in productivity as other staff struggle to take on the extra workload to ensure business operations continue smoothly.
Employers can improve absence management by using smart HR software where they can easily manage and keep track of all employee absences.
- Immigration status of employees
The strike can also cause delays in foreign worker applications for work permits/PR/citizenships. Employers should be considerate of this while also ensuring they comply and that their employees remain in legal working status.