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A Further Update on COVID-19 – Ontario Legislature Approves Paid Sick Leave for Reasons Related to COVID-19 – May 3, 2021

May 3, 2021
by Israel Foulon LLP

Bill 284 Obtains Royal Assent – Paid Sick Leave Approved

On April 29, 2021, Bill 284, COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act (“the Act”),  obtained royal assent, temporarily amending the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) to require employers to provide employees with paid leave of up to $200 per day (less if the employee’s regular rate of pay is under $200 per day) for up to three (3) days because of certain reasons related to COVID-19, including:

  • going for a COVID-19 test;
  • staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test;
  • being sick with COVID-19;
  • going to get vaccinated;
  • experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination;
  • having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other authority; and
  • taking care of a dependent who is (a) sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, or (b) is self-isolating due to COVID-19.

The three (3) days of paid sick leave are only applicable to those who qualify as “employees” under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and who do not already receive contractual paid sick time.

Employers will be required to provide the paid sick days from April 19, 2021, until September 25, 2021, (the date the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will expire).

Where an employee elects to take paid leave under the Act, the employer shall pay the amount to which the employee is entitled to receive in accordance with their regular pay schedule for the pay period in which the employee elected to take the paid day of leave. Employers may request reasonable evidence to support the employee’s claim that they are entitled to paid leave. Employers cannot require that an employee provide a medical certificate from a health practitioner as evidence. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances and the employee’s past history. Where required, we recommend that employers ask employees to provide electronic screen shots of their test results or vaccine confirmation emails as evidence in support of their paid leave. 

Employer Reimbursement for Paid Leave

Eligible employers will be permitted to apply to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for reimbursement within 120 days of the paid leave. Applications must be received by no later than January 25, 2022. The application process has yet to be finalized. It is anticipated that the application will open in the coming weeks. Employers should retain proof of any payments made to employees who have elected to take paid leave, including the specific dates of the leave, the dates that payments were made and the amount of the payments. Employers will also be required to confirm that they were not otherwise required to pay the employee under the terms of an employment contract.

Israel Foulon Wong’s Response to COVID-19 Israel Foulon Wong is assessing the situation as it evolves and is taking all necessary precautions within its workplace. To slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health of our team and clients, absent extraordinary circumstances we are working remotely until further notice whenever possible. However, please be aware that our offices remain open and are fully functioning. In the circumstances, we encourage our clients to contact us by phone and email to the extent possible. Voicemail messages left at our office phone numbers are immediately forwarded via email. All messages will be promptly responded to. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our clients and would be more than happy to assist you with concerns regarding COVID-19 or any other employment or labour matters.

Legal Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice, which in all circumstances must be tailored to the specific facts of any problem. You should obtain a proper legal consultation in order to determine how this article applies to your specific situation. Please feel free to contact Israel Foulon LLP to learn more at 416-640-1550.