Support for Ontarian Workers
Prepared by: Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (March 24, 2020)
On March 19, 2020, the Ontario government passed amendments to the Employment Standards Act to provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine, or are caring for children or other relatives. These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020.
These additional protections means that employers cannot fire workers who are unable to work because the employee:
- is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19
- is following an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act
- is in isolation or quarantine due to following public health information or direction
- is directed by the employer not to work due to a concern that COVID-19 could be spread in the workplace
- needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19, such as a school or day-care closure*
- is prevented from returning to Ontario because of travel restrictions
*An employee will be able to take an unpaid leave of absence due to an infectious disease emergency to care for the following individuals:
- The employee’s spouse
- A parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A child who is under legal guardianship of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A brother, step-brother, sister or step-sister of the employee
- A grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister-in-law or step-sister-in-law of the employee
- A son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- An uncle or aunt of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- A nephew or niece of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- The spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
- A person who considers the employee to be like a family member, provided the prescribed conditions, if any, are met.
An employee will not be required to provide a medical note if they need to take leave. However, the employer may require the employee to provide other evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances, at a later date (for example, note from the daycare centre or proof that an airline cancelled a flight back to Canada).
Who does this apply to?
Most employees and employers in Ontario are covered, whether they work full-time, part-time, are students, temporary help agency assignment employees, or casual workers.
It does not apply to people in sectors that fall under federal jurisdiction, including those working for banks, airports, inter-provincial and international rail, and federal crown corporations.
For most updated information, please see our website: https://csalc.ca/
For legal advice, please call the clinic at 416-971-9674