Employment & Legal Resources
As an employer it is your responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker? Moreover, did you know that during an inspection of your workplace, a ministry inspector may ask about your plan?
In light of this, have you or your business developed a COVID-19 workplace safety plan? The provincial government has resources available to you and your business to assist with the development of a COVID-19 workplace safety plan. These resources may be helpful as you develop your plan.
Sector Specific Guidelines for Employers Re-Opening
Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.
These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional COVID-19 workplace safety resources will be added.
Changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Job Protected Leave
On March 16th, the Province of Ontario announced legislation which provides job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures. The legislation ensures that an employee will not be required to provide a medical note if they take the leave. The measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.
What this means for businesses:
- Employees will have the right to job-protected leave for COVID-19 quarantine or isolation purposes, or to care for children.
- Employees will not have to provide a medical note for COVID-19 leave.
- Job protection for COVID-19 leave will be in effect from January 25th, 2020 onwards.
The Government of Ontario has recently amended the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) to provide an additional job-protected, unpaid leave of absence (Infectious Disease Emergency Leave) if an employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because of various reasons related to a designated infectious disease. Those reasons include:
1. that the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment;
2. that the employee is subject to an order of a medical officer of health or a court under the Health Protection and Promotion Act;
3. that the employee is in quarantine or isolation undertaken because of information or direction of a public health official, qualified health practitioner, Telehealth Ontario, the governments of Ontario or Canada, a municipal council or a board of health;
4. that an employer directs the employee to stay at home because of concerns that the employee might expose others in the workplace to the designated infectious disease;
5. that the employee is providing care to a specified individual; or,
6. that the employee is affected by travel restrictions preventing them the employee from returning to Ontario.
Changes to Employment Insurance
The Federal government announced changes to Employment Insurance, in light of recent events. Service Canada will support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:
- Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
- People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
- The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim.
- Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support inquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period.
- Priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine.
- Contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:
- Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
- Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742