The Ontario government announced that it is introducing new legislation to assist workers who are affected by the COVID pandemic, called the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit. The new law will require employers to provide employees with up to $200 dollars per day, for up to 3 days, if they are missing work because of COVID. The new paid leave regulations are set to be effective until September 25, 2021, and it will provide retroactive payments to April 19, 2021.
Employees will be eligible to paid leave, for a maximum of three days, when taking leave from work to get tested for COVID, get a vaccine, if they contract COVID, are waiting for the results of a test, have been advised to self-isolate by public health authorities, or are providing care to certain relatives for reasons related to COVID. The three leave days do not need to be taken consecutively and employees cannot be required to provide a doctor’s note to be eligible. When paying sick leave to an employee under the new legislation, employers will be eligible for a reimbursement of up to $200 per day for each employee, which is set to be administered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
The provincial government has also offered to provide funds for the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) program, the current federal program for providing paid leave for reasons related to COVID. The CRSB currently provide $500 dollars a week for eligible individuals. If the provincial proposal is accepted, the CRSB could see an increase to $1,000 per week for those eligible.
It is important to note that this legislation affects only the amount of paid time off that employees are entitled to, when absent from work for reasons related to COVID. Other legislation, such as the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave regulations, which created an unpaid job-protected leave of absence for reasons related to COVID, continue to apply. However, as previously mentioned, the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit will apply retroactively to April 19, 2021. This means that eligible employees who took unpaid time off between April 19, 2021, and April 28, 2021, the date in which the benefit began to apply, for reasons related to COVID, can now choose to take those days as paid leave. In order to do this, employees must notify their employer, in writing, on or before May 12, 2021, of their intention to apply their paid leave days to such period. Contact us if you have any question.