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Ontario Government Introduces Paid COVID-19 Leave

April 30, 2021

On April 29, 2021, the Ontario government introduced the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, which amended the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) to require that employers provide eligible employees with up to $200 a day for up to three (3) days if they need to miss work because of a reason 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

  • receiving a vaccine

  • experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination

  • having been advised to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or another authority

  • taking care of a dependent who is:

    • sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19;
    • self-isolating or quarantining due to COVID-19; or

    • receiving a vaccine or experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination.

If, on April 19, 2021, an employee is already entitled to take a paid leave under his or her employment contract in any of the circumstances for which he or she would be entitled to take a paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA, the employee’s entitlement to the ESA paid leave is reduced by his or her contractual entitlement.
Eligible employees do not need to provide medical documentation supporting the paid leave and the three (3) paid days do not need to be taken consecutively.
The three (3) paid days are in addition to any unpaid days for which an employee may otherwise qualify under the infectious disease emergency leave provisions of the ESA.
Eligible employers can apply for a reimbursement of up to $200 per day from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for each employee who receives pay pursuant to this paid ESA leave.
This paid leave entitlement is retroactive to April 19, 2021 and effective until September 25, 2021.
For further information or any questions regarding these changes, please contact any member of our Toronto Employment & Labour group.