Written by Carl Cunningham, Sara Parchello and Archana Ravichandradeva
The Ontario government has extended the temporary relief measures under Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) set out in O. Reg. 228/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave until January 2, 2021.
Therefore for the purposes of the ESA, until January 2, 2021:
- A non-unionized employee whose employer has temporarily reduced or eliminated their hours of work for reasons related to COVID-19 is deemed to be on a job-protected infectious disease emergency leave.
- A non-unionized employee is not considered to be laid off if their employer temporarily reduces or eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19.
- A non-unionized employee is not considered to be constructively dismissed under the ESA if their employer temporarily reduces or eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19.
The extension of this leave also means the temporary layoff clock for those employees laid off on or after March 1, 2020, will not start until January 3, 2021.
Based on the press release from the Ministry of Labour (MOL), the MOL is taking the position that an employee who elects to keep their child home from school or daycare (even if such institutions are open) may also avail themselves to this leave.
This extension provides timely relief for employers in Ontario who are not yet able to return staff to regular work as a result of COVID-19.
If you require further information on the implications of the extended leave, including its interaction with requests for accommodation under the Human Rights Code of Ontario, please contact a member of our Employment Services group.