Staff absenteeism is a challenge for businesses, but preferable to total lockdown: Retail Council of Canada

The Retail Council of Canada says staff absenteeism due to increased cases of Omicron variants is a challenge for businesses, but is preferable to a full lockdown which would be “harmful”.

According to the Retail Council of Canada, up to 20% of the workforce across the country is absent, either in isolation awaiting COVID-19 test results or due to a case virus confirmed.

“Without a doubt, each wave of this pandemic has posed a series of challenges for retailers, but due to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, we are seeing very significant absenteeism,” said John Graham, director of government relations for the RetailCouncil. of the Prairie region of Canada.

“However, when a fifth of your staff are away, it is very difficult, at the best of times, to operate a store.”

Graham said some small businesses – those with a small group of employees or that are family run – are being forced to close due to lack of staff.

He said coping with these staff shortages can mean under-serving customers, but it’s still a better option than a full lockdown.

“The concept of a hard shutdown, as in previous waves, has been detrimental to many businesses. Closing a business completely in a number of cases would mean permanent closures,” Graham said, adding absenteeism due to the self-isolation. is the best strategy to reduce cases of Omicron in the community.

“However, the most important thing at this time is to maintain strict sickness policies, to protect the workplace for both employees and shoppers, and to maintain mandatory masking and physical distancing and all these precautions that will create a safe environment.”

Currently in Manitoba, physical distancing measures and masks are mandatory in stores.

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