Employers must be aware of the recent amendments to the Ontario Employment Standard Act with the passing of Bill 284: COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 on April 29, 2021. This Bill provides three days of paid leave for employees for reasons relating to COVID-19. Employers must be aware of these new infectious disease emergency leave considerations.
This leave is only provided to employees who are covered under the Employment Standards Act. To be eligible for this leave, employees must also be associated with at least one of the following criteria:
1. Medical investigation
The employee is under medical investigation in regard to COVID-19 or is complying with a COVID-19 related order. This includes both receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and experiencing side effects from the vaccine. This also includes the wait period for receiving a COVID-19 test.
The employee is under quarantine/isolation due to COVID-19, including due to being directly ordered by a Public Health Official.
3. Under direction
The employee is under direction via their employer in relation to concern of COVID-19 exposure from the employee to others in the workplace.
4. Providing care
The employee is providing care towards a family member who is in the current situation of the criteria above for COVID-19.
Employers should remain diligent of amounts that employee receive for this leave as well as the applicable reductions that are enlisted within the Bill. Employers should also be aware that this paid leave applies to leaves taken between April 19, 2021 and April 29, 2021.
This new Bill and its amendments are crucial in providing extra support to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers should in addition always follow up with how employees are doing during leaves taken and what other supports can be offered when needed.
Employers should ensure that employees are aware of the new provisions under this Bill should they require its support, if eligible.