COVID-19 period and ESA temporary layoff rules extended to July 30, 2021
On December 7, 2021, the Ontario government announced that the COVID-19 Period is extended to July 30, 2022 (was slated to expire January 1, 2022). As a result, extending temporary changes to the Employment Standards Act that prevent temporary layoffs of non-unionized employees from becoming unwanted terminations, which can trigger termination and severance payments. Employees on temporary layoff or who had their wages or hours reduced (or both) for COVID-19 related reasons will continue to be deemed to be on unpaid infectious disease emergency leave until July 30, 2022.
Therefore, during the COVID-19 period, March 1, 2020 to July 30, 2022:
- A non-unionized employee whose employer has temporarily reduced or temporarily eliminated their hours of work for reasons related to COVID-19 is deemed to be on a job-protected unpaid infectious disease emergency leave.
- A non-unionized employee is not considered to be laid off if their employer temporarily reduces or temporarily eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19.
- A non-unionized employee is not considered to be constructively dismissed under the ESA if their employer temporarily reduces or temporarily eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19.
Beginning on August 1, 2022:
- Employees will no longer be deemed to be on unpaid infectious disease emergency leave.
- The ESAs regular rules around constructive dismissal will resume. This means a significant reduction or elimination of an employee’s hours of work or wages may be considered a constructive dismissal under the ESA, even if it was done for reasons related to COVID-19.
- The ESAs regular rules around temporary layoff will also resume. For practical purposes, an employee’s temporary layoff clock re-sets on August 1, 2022.
Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) extended to July 31, 2022
The government also announced that same day that it is extending its Worker Income Protection Benefit program, which provides paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) days, until July 31, 2022, to continue keeping workers safe and ensure they do not lose pay if they need to miss work for reasons related to COVID-19. Employees can continue to access this paid leave to get tested, vaccinated, self-isolate, or care for a family member. Extending the COVID-19 paid leave program will also help more workers take time off to get their booster shots and help more parents take time to get their children vaccinated. To support employers, Ontario will continue reimbursing them for providing this support to their workers. With the extension of the program until July 31, 2022, employers will have 120 days after their employees are paid to submit their application to the Worker Income Protection Benefit Program.
On April 29, 2021, the Ontario government introduced and passed legislation that requires employers to provide employees with up to three days off with Infectious disease emergency leave pay if they are missing work because of COVID-19. Paid IDEL was set to expire on December 31, 2021.
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