On March 19, Ontario revised the Employment Standards Act to provide unpaid leave to employees in affected by COVID-19. Here’s a summary of the rules, that take effect retroactive to January 25, 2020.
Grounds for COVID-19 Leave
Employees can take COVID-19 leave if:
- They’re under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19;
- They’re in isolation or quarantine or otherwise following a Health Protection and Promotion Act order;
- The employer tells them not to work due to a concern about spreading COVID-19 in the workplace;
- They need to care for a person due to COVID-19 school or day-care closure; or
- They can’t return to Ontario because of travel restrictions;
They can also take leave to care for certainly family members, including:
- A spouse, or their own or a spouse’s parent, step-parent, foster parent, grandparent, step-grandparent, child, step-child, foster child, grandchild, step-grandchild, sibling, step-sibling, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece;
- Their own (but not a spouse’s) sibling, step-sibling, sibling-in-law or step-sibling-in-law;
- The spouse of their own grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece; or
- A person they consider to be like a family member.
Employees don’t have to provide a medical note to take COVID-19 leave. But employers can require the employee to provide other evidence that’s “reasonable in the circumstances,” at a time that’s “reasonable in the circumstances,” e.g., a note from the daycare centre—but not a doctor’s note.
Under the OHS Act, employers must notify the MOL in writing within 4 days if they’re advised that a worker is ill with COVID-19 or another occupational illness resulting from or files a workers’ comp claim related to an exposure at work. The employer must also notify the workplace joint health and safety committee, health and safety representative and trade union, if any.