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COVID Sick Leave: Are Employees Eligible Without Testing?

On April 29, 2021, the Ontario government passed Bill 284, which amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “Act”) requiring employers to provide their employees with three days of paid sick leave if they are unable to attend work for reasons related to COVID-19. While these reasons include testing positive for COVID-19, there are other circumstances also allowing an employee to claim COVID sick leave. Employees may also be eligible for additional days of unpaid job-protected sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19.

COVID Sick Leave: Paid

An employee will be eligible for three days of paid Covid sick leave under the Act if they are unable to attend work for any of the following reasons:

  1. The employee is under medical investigation or supervision or is receiving treatment for COVID-19. This also includes employees who are under the supervision of a physician for mental health reasons related to COVID-19, or employees who are not able to attend work because they are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, or have received the vaccine and are experiencing side effects;
  2. The employee is complying with an order issued under sections 22 or 35 of the Health Promotion and Protection Act;
  3. The employee is self-isolating or is under quarantine measures issued to the public by:
  4. A public health official;
  5. A physician or nurse located in Ontario or the same jurisdiction of the employee;
  6. Telehealth Ontario;
  7. The Government of Ontario or Canada;
  8. A municipal council in Ontario; or
  9. A board of health.
  10. The employer is concerned the employee may expose other individuals; and
  11. The employee is providing care or support to certain designated individuals affected by COVID-19.

COVID Sick Leave: Unpaid

Employees who are eligible for unpaid COVID sick leave will also enjoy job protection related to the leave. Employees are eligible for job-protected unpaid sick leave for all of the reasons they would be eligible for paid sick leave, or alternatively:

  1. An employee is directly affected by travel restrictions that prevent them from returning to Ontario;
  2. An employee is required to comply with an order relating to COVID-19 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020;

As an employee, it is important to know that there is no statutorily required specified limit to the number of days an employee can be on job-protected unpaid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19.

Conclusion

Employees do not need to test positive for COVID-19 to utilize their statutory right to paid or unpaid COVID sick leave. Employees should always be aware of their rights and should know that their employers cannot penalize them for enforcing their rights.

Contact Us 

If you are an employer facing a claim for wrongful dismissal, or an employee who believes you’ve been wrongfully dismissed for any reason including COVID sick leave, our team of experienced employment and human rights lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with a same-day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as or should be construed as legal advice and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected]