On April 29, 2021, the Government of Ontario introduced “COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit,” a paid sick leave plan through Bill 284, Covid-19 Putting Workers First Act.
This Bill amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), requiring employers to provide employees with up to 3 days of paid infectious disease emergency leave (also known as the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit). This entitlement is in addition to the previously announced unpaid infectious disease emergency leave. Please note that these days do not have to be taken consecutively.
HOW TO QUALIFY
- To be eligible, you must be an employee covered by the Employment Standards Act. You are not eligible if you are an independent contractor or if you work for a federally-regulated sector (banks, airlines, inter-provincial transportation…etc).
- Under the amended ESA, an employee is entitled to a paid leave of absence if the employee will not be performing their work duties because of any of the following reasons related to COVID-19:
- Employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision, or treatment due to COVID-19 (this includes receiving a vaccine for COVID-19 and recovering from associated side effects)
- Employee is in quarantine, isolation, or subject to another “control measure” issued by government officials, public health authorities or a qualified medical practitioner in response to COVID-19
- Employee is directed by their employer not to work due to concerns that the employee may expose others to COVID-19
- Employee is caring for or providing support to a prescribed family member* who is
- under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment, or in quarantine or isolation, or
- is subject to a control measure (including but not limited to quarantine, self-isolation) implemented as a result of directions issued by government officials, public health authorities or a qualified medical practitioner in response to COVID-19.
*A prescribed family member includes one’s parents, grandparents, spouse, children or stepchildren, siblings or stepsiblings, brother or sister-in-law, son or daughter in law, uncle/aunt, niece/ nephew…etc.
Qualified employees are only entitled to use the 3 days of paid infectious disease emergency leave between April 19, 2021 and September 25, 2021.
- An employee who takes this WPIB leave must advise his or her employer that he or she will be doing so as soon as possible.
- Employers cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a doctor or nurse as evidence
AMOUNT TO BE PAID UNDER THE LEAVE
- Employers are only required to pay an employee the wages that the employee would have earned for the day had they not taken the leave, up to $200 per day of leave.
- Employees are only entitled to their regular rate of pay – overtime and shift premiums do not apply
- If an employee takes any part of a day as paid infectious disease emergency leave, the employer may deem the employee to have used a full day of leave out of their three (3) days paid leave entitlement
INTERACTION WITH CONTRACTUAL PAID LEAVE
- Where an employee is already entitled to paid leave under their contract and where these paid days can be used in the same circumstances as paid infectious disease emergency leave, then the contractual leave will be inclusive of the statutory three (3) days of paid leave
- However, if the employee is receiving less than three (3) contractual paid days of leave, then the statutory infectious disease leave would make up the difference so that the employee has at least three (3) days of leave
- The above applies only when your contractual entitlement under your employment contract is equal or greater than the WPIB entitlement
CSALC encourages individuals to contact the clinic if they have any questions regarding the new policy on paid sick leave during COVID-19. If you are non-English speaking and speak one of the languages in our client communities (Vietnamese, Laotian, Khmer, Cantonese, or Mandarin), please call our legal clinic at 416-971-9674. If you are English-speaking, you can call your local community legal clinic. You may also contact Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre at 1-888-999-2248 (TTY: 1-866-567-8893) for more information.