The Ontario government has passed into law Bill 284, COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021. It amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) by requiring employers to provide employees with paid infectious disease emergency (IDEL) leave of up to $200/day for a maximum of 3 days of paid leave.
Note that this paid leave is a temporary benefit only, applying retroactively from April 19, 2021 to September 25, 2021, with the possibility of extension.
Pursuant to the Ontario Ministry of Labour guidelines, this paid leave applies in connection with specified absences because of COVID-19, such as:
- going for a COVID-19 test;
- isolating at home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test;
- being sick with COVID-19;
- going to get vaccinated;
- experiencing side effects from a COVID-19 vaccination;
- self-isolation due to COVID-19 based on direction from an employer, medical practitioner or other specified authority; and
- providing care or support to certain relatives who are ill or isolating for COVID-19 related reasons
Employees are not required to provide a doctor’s note or other medical evidence to take the paid leave.
If you are already eligible for paid leave in the above circumstances, note that this entitlement is not in addition to existing paid time off benefits. Therefore, any paid leave taken will count toward the 3 days of paid leave under the paid infectious disease emergency leave provisions.
Eligible employers are entitled to reimbursement through the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) of up to $200 per employee per day taken. There is a 120-day deadline for applying for reimbursement.