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Ontario Passes COVID-19 Job Protected Leave Legislation

March 19, 2020

The Ontario Government has passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020.  It provides job-protected leave to provincially regulated employees who are unable to work for the following reasons:

  • the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19; 
  • the employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act
  • the employee is in isolation or quarantined in accordance with public health information or direction, which information or direction can be provided by a public health official, a qualified health practitioner, Telehealth Ontario, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada, a municipal council or a board of health;
  • the employer directs the employee not to work due to a concern that COVID-19 could be spread in the workplace;
  • the employee needs to provide care to a “person” (broadly defined below) for a reason related to COVID-19, which would include school or daycare closure;
  • the employee is prevented from returning to Ontario because of travel restrictions.

An employee can take this leave to care for a broad group of individuals, including their spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, in-laws, aunts or uncles, nephews or nieces, the spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece, or a person the employee considers to be like a family member. 

An employee will not be required to provide a medical note to take this leave.  However, an employer may ask the employee to provide other evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances (e.g. a note from the daycare, or evidence a flight was cancelled).

The Act is retroactive to January 25, 2020.  

The Ontario Government has also reminded employers that they are required to report all occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in writing within 4 days, along with their joint health and safety committee, or a health and safety representative or union where applicable.  

The full text of the Act can be found at the following link:

https://www.ola.org/sites/default/files/node-files/bill/document/pdf/2020/2020-03/b186ra_e.pdf