HR Home Forums Community Ontario – Voluntary Lay Off During COVID-19

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  • Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    hi there
    We have 2 employees that have been on voluntary lay off since the start of the pandemic due to their age/ caring for someone at home with pre existing conditions. We are wondering when we are obligated to start encouraging them to return. We do not want their lay off to become a dismissal as their severance would be quite costly. We want them to return but don’t want to have an issue with forcing their return. The COVID benefit relief laws keep changing and we aren’t sure how long they can stay off before it becomes an issue.

    Thanks Allaina

    Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    Under Ontario COVID emergency orders, you can avoid permanent termination by putting the employees on unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave until July 3, 2021. During that period, you don’t have to make employer contributions to their benefits plans, as long as you weren’t making such contributions when they were first temporarily laid off. The employees can’t sue you for constructive dismissal because of being on temporary layoff while the order is in effect–at least under the ESA.
    So, July 3 is pretty much D-Day for return to work–unless the government extends the deadline again (it already has twice). You’re free to encourage them to return any time before that but you can’t force them to do so. Of course, you also have the option to make the temporary layoff permanent if you’re willing to pay the required termination notice and other ESA entitlements. Hope that answers your question. Glenn

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