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.

See here for sector-specific information and examples of controls that apply to your type of workplace to get started on your COVID-19 workplace safety 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.

Click here to read the available guidelines.

Whether you are currently operating or planning for your workers to return to work, the guide will help you develop a plan to work safely. Check Phase 2 guides here.

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.

Details below:

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

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

This benefit provides support for up to 16 weeks for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This benefit replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

  • Those residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.
  • Those who earn $1000 or less a month will now be eligible for CERB.
  • Those who have run out of employment insurance since January 1st, 2020 can now access the CERB. 
  • Seasonal workers will also be eligible for CERB.

Click here for full eligibility details on the CERB.

Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application.

Those who have already applied for EI do not need to re-apply for the CERB, you will automatically be switched over.

The portal for accessing the CERB is now available.

Click here for common CERB FAQs.

You can get ready to apply online by setting up your CRA My Account now, and signing up for direct deposit to get your benefit more quickly.

For details, call 1-800-959-2019.