Ontario – The Ontario government is extending paid sick leave for those that contract the COVID-19 virus. The Worker Income Protection Benefit will now run till Dec. 31 rather than the original September deadline.
“Our government’s COVID-19 paid sick leave program was scheduled to end on September 25th, 2021. However, in response to new data showing the Delta variant is spreading faster and is more transmissible, we are extending our COVID-19 sick leave program until December 31st, 2021, to ensure that we continue to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible and protect workers sick from the virus,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development.
On April 29th, 2021, the Ontario Government amended the Employment Standards Act to require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. Employers are generally required to pay employees the wages they would have earned had they not taken the leave, up to $200 a day for up to three days. If an employee takes only part of a day as paid infectious disease emergency leave, the employer can count it as a full day of leave.
- Paid infectious disease emergency leave is available for certain reasons related to COVID-19, including, going for a COVID-19 test, staying home to wait for results, being sick with COVID-19, getting individual medical treatment for mental health reasons related to COVID-19, going to get vaccinated, experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination, having been advised to self-isolate, providing care or support to relatives for COVID-19 related reasons, such as when they are:
- sick with COVID-19covid 19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
- self-isolating due to COVID-19 on the advice of a medical practitioner or other specified authority
Employers who had to authorize paid leave for employees can be eligible for reimbursement under the ESA if one of the following apply,
- An employer is eligible for reimbursement if the employee used some of their paid leave under their employment contract before April 19th, 2021, so they didn’t have at least three days of paid leave remaining.
- If the employment contract provided less pay for the leave than the entitlement under the ESA (generally the wages the employees would have earned had they not taken the leave, up to $200).
- If the employment contract contained conditions for taking the leave that are more restrictive than what is set out in the ESA.
An employer is not entitled to be reimbursed for payments made to an employee for paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA if either,
The employee received Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits for the same days of leave, or the employer cancelled or rescinded the paid leave offered to their employees as part of an employment contract on or after April 19th, 2021.
For more information, visit Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit | Ontario.ca