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Sep 10, 2020

Ontario Extended the COVID-19 Job-Protected Infectious Disease Leave to January 2, 2021

On September 3, 2020, the Ontario government issued Regulation 492/20 of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) to extend the COVID-19 Period for Infectious Disease Emergency Leave from September 4, 2020 to January 2, 2021.[1]

This means that if the work hours of non-unionized employees had been temporarily reduced or eliminated for reasons related to COVID-19, the employees are deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave until January 2, 2021. In these circumstances, the employees will not be considered to be on temporary lay-off or constructively dismissed under the ESA for the duration of the COVID-19 Period, as prescribed in O. Reg. 492/20.

The regulation permits employers to defer their termination and severance obligations, which would otherwise have been triggered under the ESA for temporary lay-offs, or who may have been subject to a constructive dismissal, until the start of 2021.

The newly extended COVID-19 Period applies to any person covered by the ESA, including the following:

  1. employees of businesses that have fully reopened, where the employee needs to stay home to isolate or quarantine, or to take care of a loved one due to COVID-19;

     

  2. employees who stay home as they did not to send their children back to school due to concerns about COVID-19;[2] and

     

  3. employees instructed to stay away from work under their employer’s direction because of the employer’s concern that the employee might expose others to a designated infectious disease – including COVID-19.

What happens on January 3, 2021 when the COVID-19 Period ends? If there are no further extensions, the regular rules regarding constructive dismissals and temporary lay-offs under the ESA will resume. The temporary layoff clock will reset on January 3, 2021.

If you have any questions about the impact of Regulation 492/20 on your business or on your employment, please contact our Litigation Group.



[1] O. Reg. 492/20 amends Regulation 228/20, which had the COVID-19 Period until September 4, 2020.

[2] https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/58240/ontario-extends-support-for-employers-and-employees-impacted-by-covid-19

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