A number of Canadian provinces are now offering paid sick leave for eligible employees1, for absences related to COVID-19. In accordance with these programs, employers are responsible for providing payment to employees during their period of COVID-19 sick leave, subject to reimbursement from various provincial governmental agencies.
A high-level overview of the provincial COVID-19 leave entitlements, as well as how to seek employer reimbursement is provided below.
- Leave Entitlement: Eligible employees are entitled 3 non-consecutive days of paid infectious disease emergency leave ("Ontario COVID Leave"), pursuant to Ontario's COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Program. Ontario COVID Leave is payable by the employer to the employee to a maximum of $200 per day of leave, subject to reimbursement.
- Eligibility Period: April 19, 2021 to September 25, 2021
- Eligibility Criteria: Ontario COVID Leave may
be taken for certain reasons related to COVID-19, including:
- Going for a COVID-19 test;
- Staying home to wait for the results of a COVID-19 test;
- Being sick with COVID-19;
- Getting vaccinated against COVID-19;
- Experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination;
- Being advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other specified authority; or
- Providing care or support to certain relatives for COVID-19 related reasons.
- Documentation: Employers cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a doctor or nurse to substantiate taking Ontario COVID Leave.
- Contractual Paid Sick Leave: Where an employee is entitled to paid sick leave pursuant to their employment contract, for one or more of the same reasons that Ontario COVID Leave can be taken, the number of paid days under the contract would reduce the employee's right to Ontario COVID Leave. The foregoing applies only if the amount of paid sick leave under the employment contract is at least as much as the employee would be entitled to be paid for the Ontario COVID Leave.
- Reimbursement: Eligible employers must make their application for reimbursement to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee. The online application for reimbursement is available here.
- More information: Further information regarding the Ontario COVID Leave program is available here.
- Leave Entitlement: Eligible employees in British Columbia will be entitled to 3 days of paid sick leave ("BC COVID Leave"), with regular wages payable by the employer for such days, subject to reimbursement of up to $200 per day. Employees taking BC COVID Leave must be paid their regular wages for such days.
- Eligibility Period: May 20, 2021 to December 31, 2021
- Eligibility Criteria: Employees are eligible for paid sick leave if they need to stay home because of reasons related to COVID-19.
- Documentation: Employers cannot require an employee to provide a doctor's note to substantiate taking BC COVID Leave.
- Contractual Paid Sick Leave: BC COVID Leave is not available to employees who already have a paid sick leave benefits plan.
- Reimbursement: Employers may be reimbursed up to $200 per day of BC COVID Leave, provided the employer does not have an existing paid sick day program. WorkSafeBC will administer the reimbursement program and employers will be able to apply for reimbursement here as of June 15, 2021.
- More information: Further information regarding the BC COVID Leave program is available here.
- Leave Entitlement: Under Manitoba's Pandemic Sick Leave program, Manitoba employees are entitled to 5 non-consecutive days of paid leave for COVID-19 related reasons ("Manitoba COVID Leave"), with regular wages payable by the employer for such days, subject to reimbursement of up to $600 for the full leave.
- Eligibility Criteria: Eligible employees may take Manitoba COVID Leave for reasons related to COVID-19, including for testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or to care for a relative in any of these circumstances.
- Eligibility Period: May 7, 2021 to September 25, 2021
- Documentation: An employee must provide their employer as much notice as is reasonable and practicable under the circumstances before taking a Manitoba COVID Leave. Employers may require employees to provide reasonable verification of their entitlement to Manitoba COVID Leave as soon as practicable, but cannot require an employee to provide a doctor's note or medical certificate.
- Contractual Paid Sick Leave: Employers which provide more than 5 days of paid sick leave to all of their employees are not eligible for reimbursement of Manitoba COVID Leave. If an eligible employer offers paid sick leave to a portion of its employees (for example, full time employees only), the employer is eligible to claim reimbursement of Manitoba COVID Leave in respect of those employees who do not have contractual, paid sick leave entitlements. If an eligible employer offers less than 5 days of paid sick leave, they may claim reimbursement for the difference between the days of paid sick leave offered and the 5 day maximum under the Manitoba program. Employees who have exhausted paid sick leave benefits are not covered by Manitoba COVID Leave in these circumstances.
- Reimbursement: The Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave program provides employers with up to $600 per employee in total for up to 5 full days of Manitoba COVID Leave. Employers may apply for reimbursement of Manitoba COVID Leave through the online application form available through Manitoba Economic Development and Jobs; the application may be made after the end of the applicable employee's regular pay period.
- More information: Further details regarding Manitoba's COVID Leave program are available here.
- Leave Entitlement: Under Nova Scotia's COVID-19 COVID Leave Program, eligible employees are entitled to up to 4 non-consecutive days of paid COVID Leave ("Nova Scotia COVID Leave"), payable by the employer but subject to reimbursement. Payment by the employer for Nova Scotia COVID Leave is calculated based on the employee's current rate of pay up to a maximum of $20 per hour or $160 per day (or $640 total, for the 4 days).
- Eligibility Period: May 10, 2021 to July 31, 2021
- Eligibility Criteria: Eligible workers who cannot work remotely and miss less than 50% of their scheduled work time in a 1-week period due to COVID-19 may be eligible for Nova Scotia COVID Leave. Reasons for taking Nova Scotia COVID Leave can include waiting to get tested for COVID-19, self-isolating while waiting for test results, and getting vaccinated.
- Contractual Paid Sick Leave: Employees who have other COVID Leave benefits are not eligible for Nova Scotia COVID Leave, even if those benefits have been exhausted.
- Reimbursement: As of May 26, 2021, eligible employers may apply to the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council for reimbursement for Nova Scotia COVID Leave. Applications for reimbursement must be made within 90 days of the employee being paid for the Nova Scotia COVID Leave. The application must include a declaration form signed by the employer and the employee. A doctor's note is not required.
- More information: Further information regarding Nova Scotia's COVID Leave Program is available here.
- Leave Entitlement: Under Yukon's Paid Sick Leave Rebate program, eligible Yukon workers may receive up to 10 days' wages if they are absent from work due to COVID-19 ("Yukon COVID Leave"), payable by and reimbursable to the employer up to a maximum of $378.13 daily, per employee.
- Eligibility Criteria: Eligible workers may take Yukon COVID Leave if they are sick, self-isolating, or caring for other household members due to COVID-19. Yukon's Paid Sick Leave Rebate does not, however, pay wages in respect of workers in self-isolation after voluntary travel outside the territory, or to companies bringing workers into the territory. Yukon COVID Leave may be split into multiple uses totalling no more than 10 days.
- Eligibility Period: April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021
- Documentation: Employers cannot require an employee to provide a doctor's note or medical certificate to substantiate Yukon COVID Leave.
- Contractual Paid Sick Leave: Yukon COVID Leave will apply only after all existing regular paid sick leave for the employee is used.
- Reimbursement: The Yukon Paid Sick Leave Rebate program provides employers with a maximum daily rebate of $378.13 per employee. The rebate covers a maximum total of 10 days of wages per employee (not including benefits, payroll taxes or deductions) to allow for sick leave and/or for a self-isolation period. Employers can apply for the Paid Sick Leave Rebate here.
- More information: Further information regarding Yukon's Paid Sick Leave Rebate program is available here.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
Employees and other workers who are not eligible to receive provincial paid sick days for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for income support through the federal government's Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit ("CRSB") program. Further information regarding CRSB is available here.
This post will be updated in the event that any other provinces or territories offer paid sick leave entitlements for COVID-19 related reasons.
Should you have any questions or require further information regarding these entitlements, please do not hesitate to reach out to a member of Labour and Employment group.
1 Employees are generally considered eligible for COVID Leave if they are covered by the applicable provincial employment standards legislation. Such eligibility varies by province.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.