On May 28, 2020, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) published COVID 19 – Related Rent Concessions (Amendment to IFRS 16) (hereafter “the Amendment’’). The Amendment adds a practical expedient to IFRS 16 Leases which provides relief for lessees in assessing whether specific COVID-19 rent concessions are lease modifications. Instead, if this practical expedient is applied, these rent concessions are treated as if they are not lease modifications. There are no changes for the lessors.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating additional burden on entities all over the world. As a result, lessors may have provided or will be providing lessees with rent concessions. These can be in the form of rent holidays or rent reductions for an agreed timeframe (possibly followed by increased rentals in future periods).

In some jurisdictions, governments are making rent concessions a requirement, in others, they are merely encouraging them. However, they will have major impact for lessees, in particular, in the retail and hospitality industries where, in many cases, they have been forced to temporarily close their premises.

 

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Jean-François Boudreault
Partner | Human resources consulting

Employee health and safety is a major concern for all businesses. However, teleworking parameters are still not set in stone.

Organizations must have a firm grasp of the issues surrounding this relatively new practice and adapt their policies to include the risks associated with teleworking.

The Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety sets out certain basic employer (see section 51 of the Act) and employee (see section 49 of the Act) rights and obligations.

For example, employers must ensure employee protection and use the tools and methods required to identify and control risks. They must also inform their employees of any such risks.

Employees, on the other hand, must adhere to the prevention policies put in place by their employer and take the necessary measures to protect their health and ensure their safety.

Those general measures must be adapted and personalized according to the work environment and nature. The pandemic has sped up the telework practice and we need answers to some questions in order to meet the applicable legal obligations.

Why it’s important to have a telework management policy

A management policy must include all health and safety issues. It is key to defining the requirements of teleworking and helping implement prevention solutions.

All aspects of physical health and integrity must be addressed, including workplace set-ups and ergonomics.

Ergonomics

An employee’s home office must meet the same health and safety standards as the employer’s offices. Work furniture and equipment used must be of good quality and meet recognized standards in order to avoid musculoskeletal issues or accidents. Make sure to adjust the lighting so the computer screen does not reflect light.
You can learn more about the measures to follow by visiting the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and adapt them to your own work context.

Reporting incidents

Employees who work from home must report any discomfort or incident to their employer so the latter can offer a solution before things get worse. As an entrepreneur, you must make sure your employees have read and understood your policy and know who to turn to if there is a potential source of risk.

Psychosocial risks

Organizations must also take into account risk factors that could affect employee mental health, including isolation and issues such as keeping staff engaged and taking care of their employer brand.

At home, teleworkers are often by themselves. Interactions with co-workers rarely happen outside virtual meetings. They may feel like they’re losing their bearings or missing the bigger picture, which makes it harder to understand what’s going on even within their own team.

Employers must have the means—technological or other—to overcome those obstacles, promote interactions and detect distress signals, as applicable. For example, team leads should have access to the tools enabling them to detect psychological disorders in employees and to regularly keep in touch with them.

Methods of evaluation and risk control

In order to support teleworking and follow up on health and safety risks, entrepreneurs can put in place the measures adapted to their situation:

  • Have a self-evaluation form
  • Produce health and wellness surveys
  • Facilitate access for supervisors and managers
  • Give remote employees access to helpful resources (health and safety advisor, ergonomics advisor, psychological support consultation, etc.)
  • Include material resources or facilitate access to these resources (gyms, equipment, online resources)

There are still many elements that need to be clarified when it comes to teleworking and its risks. Current policies which were developed at a time when teleworking was still new, or barely existed, are being reviewed and adapted to better help employers and employees implement this new reality. The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) is also reviewing how it can intervene in this particular context.

We encourage entrepreneurs to examine their own situation and be proactive in taking prevention measures for their employees and business.

This article was a joint collaboration with Mathieu Couture from MEDIAL.

21 Jul 2020  |  Written by :

Jean-François Boudreault is a partner at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. He is your expert in human...

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The Grant Thornton International IFRS team has published COVID-19 – Accounting Considerations for CFOs: Events after the Reporting Period.

If the widespread impact of COVID-19 began during the entity’s reporting period, the impact will be reflected in its financial statements for that period.

However, to the extent that the widespread impact of COVID-19 occurred during the entity’s “subsequent events period” (i.e. the period between the end of the reporting period and the date when the financial statements are authorized for issue), management must determine how material developments after year-end should be reflected in the entity’s financial statements for the period under audit or review.

The publication COVID-19 – Accounting Considerations for CFOs: Events after the Reporting Period addresses the following questions:

  • When is COVID-19 considered a non-adjusting event?
  • When is COVID-19 considered an adjusting event?

The publication also provides examples of disclosures for both situations.

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The current context is prompting us to rethink our staff management practices, including our hiring process. Here’s a quick guide on remote hiring.

For a few months now, businesses have been operating in a context that’s prompting us to rethink our HR management practices, including our hiring process. It’s crucial to stay proactive by continuing to offer effective, innovative recruitment activities—it will make it easier for you to get back to business.

During the pandemic, businesses must use the new technologies at their disposal for their recruitment needs.

Naturally, welcoming a candidate with the good old-fashioned handshake is no longer standard practice.

However, your hiring process can be just as effective when done remotely. Here are some tips you can use for your video conference interviews.

Video conference interview: Inform the candidate

1. Contact the candidate by phone or email beforehand to explain how the video interview will take place. You want to make sure they have the right technological tools (computer, tablet or smartphone, internet connection, video conference software, etc.).

2. Do a test run before the meeting to make sure everything works and that the candidate is comfortable using the tools (that will help set them up for success).

3. Email the candidate at least 48 hours prior to the meeting to provide all meeting details: date, time, length and software to use (Teams, Skype, etc.).

How employers should prepare

As an employer, you should apply the same best practices you use for in-person interviews:

1. Be on time and be available for the candidate (avoid interruptions).

2. Choose a quiet place with good lighting.

3. Make sure you have a stable internet connection.

4. Observe a few moments of silence throughout the interview to allow the candidate to express themselves fully (very often, the candidate will ask some excellent questions towards the end of the interview).

Before you start, let the candidate know how long the interview will take, how many people are present and how it will go about in general.

The job interview process

For a first interview via video conference, we recommend not going over 45 minutes. You can address five to seven usual interview points, including:

  • Career (résumé);
  • Reasons for seeking a job change;
  • Career goals and expectations;
  • Achievements and successes;
  • Understanding of the position they’re applying for;
  • The type of business sought by the candidate;
  • English proficiency (if relevant);
  • Computer skills and salary expectations.

Use a structured interview questionnaire and real-life scenarios to guide you and make sure you don’t forget anything.

The meeting will essentially run like a normal job interview. You may consider the following as important elements during the video conference:

  • Candidate’s presence, availability and level of comfort;
  • How well the candidate prepared for the interview;
  • How the candidate presents themselves (outfit, neat appearance, posture, language, etc.);
  • The location chosen by the candidate (ideal, quiet, well lit, discreet, etc.);
  • Non-verbal signs (e.g. tics, restlessness, signs of stress of discomfort, eye movements, etc.).

Before ending the meeting, ask the candidate if they have questions and explain the next steps of the hiring process.

If the candidate has an interesting profile, you can hold a second interview via video conference to help you delve deeper into certain specific aspects and use one or two other real-life scenarios.

Many employers have already been using a videoconference system for years, but not as much as they are now.

Video conference interviews ensure businesses are proactive, innovative and ready to go when it’s time to resume their operations.

If you have questions about the hiring process or other concerns regarding HR management, our experts will be happy to help you.