Ontario Announces Legislative Changes to IDEL
On December 17, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced that it would be taking proactive measures to protect jobs by helping businesses by introducing legislative changes to IDEL.
Expanding the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”)
Importantly, IDEL has been extended by six months, from its previous end date of January 2, 2021 to July 3, 2021.
What this extension means is if a non-unionized employee is utilizing IDEL between January 25, 2020 and July 3, 2021, that any reduced hours or temporary lay-off will not become permanent. Further, this extension provides continued relief for employers worrying about potential lawsuits for constructive dismissal during this time period.
Remember, although the IDEL provisions are extended to the summer of 2021, the government can always decide to extend the timelines again.
As a refresher, IDEL was introduced through legislative amendments to the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) and applies retroactively from January 25, 2020. It protects employers by ensuring that a non-unionized employee whose hours are temporarily reduced or eliminated for reasons related to COVID-19 is not considered to be constructively dismissed.
Also, it allows employees to take unpaid and job-protected leave if they are not performing their duties for reasons related to COVID-19.
The ESA lists reasons that an employee may take IDEL. Some of these reasons include that the employee is:
- under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment relating to COVID-19;
- subject to an issued order, control measures, and/or an employer directive; and
- providing care or support to listed individuals because of a matter related to COVID-19.
For a detailed list of reasons an employee can take IDEL, please review regulation 228/20 under the ESA.
At this time, there is no specified limit to the number of days an employee can be away on IDEL.
Support for Industries Struggling because of COVID-19
The government is also introducing a regulation that applies to certain industries such to those working in tourism and hospitality. This regulation is proposed to allow employers to develop alternative arrangements, in collaboration with unions, for putting termination and severance pay into a trust for laid-off employees. The employer may then use these funds to keep their businesses afloat.
Such an alternative arrangement requires consent of the employer and the union. It is also expected that there will be flexibility to negotiate a percentage of the termination and severance pay that may be put into trust.
We will keep you updated on these proposed changes as more information becomes available.
If you an employer and guidance on the new legislative changes to Ontario regulation 228/20, or an employee and have questions pertaining to layoffs or terminations, contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to assist.