Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Ending March 31, 2023
Date: March 24, 2023
On March 23, 2023, the Ontario government tabled its 2023 Ontario Budget: Building a Strong Ontario. Of significance to employers, the Budget announced that the paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (Paid IDEL) will expire on March 31, 2023.
By way of background, the Paid IDEL is a form of paid leave available under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) where an employee is unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. This would include, for example, when an employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision, or treatment, or when an employee is required to provide care or support to a specified family member. Eligible employees are entitled to a maximum of three days of Paid IDEL, although the number of days may have been reduced depending on an employee’s contractual entitlements.
Paid IDEL first came into effect on April 19, 2021 and has been subsequently extended. With this Budget announcement, the government has signalled no further extensions will be made for Paid IDEL. Therefore, it will expire on March 31, 2023, the date currently set out by Ontario Regulation 228/20 made under the ESA.
It is important that employers continue to ensure all applications for reimbursement of Paid IDEL are made on a timely basis for any Paid IDEL days taken by employees prior to March 31, 2023.
As we discussed in a prior communication (Employers Take Note: Changes to the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave), regular unpaid IDEL still remains in place for as long as COVID-19 is designated as an “infectious disease” by O. Reg. 228/20. Currently, there is no specified time limit on that designation.
Therefore, employees will continue to be able to access unpaid IDEL where the employee will not be performing work for one or more of the following reasons in relation to COVID-19:
- The employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment.
- The employee is subject to an order of a medical officer of health or a court under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
- The employee is in quarantine or isolation or is subject to a control measure, including self-isolation, that is undertaken because of information or directions issued by a public health official, qualified health practitioner, Telehealth Ontario, the government of Ontario or Canada, a municipal council or a board of health.
- The employer directs the employee to stay at home because of concerns that the employee might expose other individuals in the workplace to the designated infectious disease.
- The employee is providing care to a specified family member, including because of closures of schools and daycares.
- The employee is directly affected by travel restrictions preventing the employee from returning to Ontario.
- Any prescribed reason.
Employers continue to be able to ask for “evidence reasonable in the circumstances,” “at a time reasonable in the circumstances,” to verify the unpaid IDEL but are prohibited from requiring employees to obtain medical certificates to justify the leave. All requests for unpaid IDEL should continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Should you have any questions about the end of Paid IDEL or the application of IDEL generally, please contact your regular Hicks Morley lawyer.
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