Flames will not pay part-time arena workers for events canceled due to coronavirus, report says

The NHL’s “pause” due to coronavirus (COVID-19) fears has caused many arenas across North America to shut down, and on Friday the owners of the Calgary Flames reportedly notified hourly and event employees that they will not be paid for canceled shifts.

According to the Calgary Herald, the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) sent an email to workers of the Scotiabank Saddledome — home of the Flames, the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks; all teams owned by CSEC — stating that they will not be paid for shifts beyond the March 12 date that saw the indefinite postponement of many leagues around the world.

“Unless notified by your supervisor, all scheduled shifts are cancelled. CSEC will pay for your March 12, 2020 shift if you were scheduled to work as the notice of cancellation was less than the 24 hours required by Alberta Employment Standards. Any shifts on March 13, 2020 and beyond must be pre-approved by your supervisor,” the email reportedly stated. “Alberta Employment Standards requires that employers provide 24 hours’ notice for cancellation of scheduled shifts. CSEC will pay employees where the notification of cancellation was less than 24 hours. No payment will be made for shifts cancelled with greater than 24 hours’ notice.”

The move comes at a time when several other ownership groups — and even some players — around the NHL and NBA have publicly stated they will be covering the wages of venue employees during the shutdown, at least in the short term.

CSEC pointed to the Canadian government’s waiving of the one-week waiting period for employment insurance benefits due the COVID-19 outbreak, and encouraged affected employees to apply. 

“The details of this change are still in progress, however, it appears that employees asked to self-isolate by their employers when recommended by public health officials will qualify,” the email reportedly read. “Employees must have sufficient insurable hours to qualify for EI benefits.”

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