Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave in Ontario
On April 29, 2021, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 284 , COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021, which amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000’s provisions related to the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). Specifically, Bill 284 has implemented up to three paid days of job protected leave for provincially regulated non-unionized employees for any situation in which Infectious Disease Emergency Leave would have already been available. Bill 284 comes in the wake of a surge of COVID-19 cases in Ontario and pressure from provincially regulated non-unionized employees seeking greater support.
When is Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Available?
Bill 284 implements the three paid days of Infectious Disease Emergency Leave retroactive to April 19, 2021. However, the entitlement to this new paid leave only lasts until September 25, 2021. Bill 284 also sets out the Specific situations in which this paid leave is available. These include, but are not limited to, instances where the employee is under medical investigation, supervision, or treatment related to an infectious disease, where the employee is adhering to public health guidelines that require time off from work, where the employee is in quarantine or self-isolation, where an employer has directed an employee to take time off work out of safety concerns, or where the employee must care for a family member under medical investigation, supervision, or treatment, or otherwise in quarantine or self-isolation.
How Does an Employment Agreement Affect Paid IDEL?
The provisions of Bill 284 additionally specify that the three days of paid leave are not in addition to any paid sick leave already provided specifically for IDEL but instead are a top up to them. This means if an employer was already offering two days of paid leave related to COVID-19, Bill 284 only adds one additional day of paid leave for this employee. Employees should ensure they do not confuse the provisions of Bill 284 as providing them with further paid leave related to COVID-19 from what they have already been provided. Employees also have the option to choose whether they would like to use paid or unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave first.
What is the Purpose of Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave?
Given the new paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave only lasts for three days as compared to the standard two-week quarantine and self-isolation periods utilized when contracting COVID-19, it appears the purpose is instead to provide employees an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Employees have enough time to receive a vaccination and then recover from any potential side effects before returning to work, without losing out on any pay.
Contact Achkar Law
If you are an employer and would like further information on how Bill 284 may affect your business or policies or an employee who wants to know more about your entitlement to Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help.