On December 7, 2021, the Ontario government announced an extension to paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave ("IDEL") until July 31, 2022. The government also extended deemed IDEL until July 30, 2022. Deemed IDEL provides temporary relief measures from the termination and severance provisions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the "ESA").

Paid IDEL Extended to July 31, 2022

On December 9, 2021, the Ontario government filed Ontario Regulation 834/21 which amends Ontario Regulation 228/20 (the "Regulation") to extend paid IDEL to July 31, 2022. Prior to this amendment, paid IDEL was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021.

As we previously posted here on this blog, paid IDEL is a type of leave available under the ESA available to an employee who is unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. Reasons related to COVID-19 may include:

  • to get a COVID-19 test;
  • await results of a COVID-19 test;
  • while sick with COVID-19;
  • to get vaccinated against COVID-19;
  • while experiencing side effects from a COVID-19 vaccination;
  • to self-isolate on the recommendation of an employer, medical practitioner or other specified authority; or
  • to provide care or support to certain relatives for COVID-19-related reasons.

Eligible employees are entitled to three (3) days of paid IDEL, and it is payable by the employer to the employee up to a maximum of $200 per day of leave, subject to reimbursement through the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ("WSIB"). Notably, eligible employers must complete the application process to the WSIB for reimbursement within 120 days of the date on which the employer paid the employer.

For more information on paid IDEL see here on our blog, and here and here from the Government of Ontario.

Deemed IDEL Extended to July 30, 2022

Ontario Regulation 834/21 also amends the Regulation to further extend the COVID-19 Period to run from March 1, 2020 to July 30, 2022 (the "COVID-19 Period"). Previously, the COVID-19 Period was scheduled to expire on January 1, 2022.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government enacted the Regulation, which changed certain ESA standards during the COVID-19 Period.

As we previously discussed, one of the changes to the ESA that was made pursuant to the Regulation includes the introduction of the deemed IDEL. Deemed IDEL provides that, where employers unilaterally impose temporary reductions of wages or hours of work during the COVID-19 Period, such acts do not constitute constructive dismissal pursuant to the ESA, unless the relevant employee resigned in response to such act prior to the enactment of the Regulation on May 29, 2020.

Accordingly, during the COVID-19 Period, where an employer temporarily reduces or eliminates an employees' hours of work for reasons related to COVID-19, those employees are considered to be on deemed IDEL.

For more detailed information on deemed IDEL see here and here on our blog, and here from the Government of Ontario.

We also remind employers that once the COVID-19 Period ends on July 30, 2022, the temporary relief measures described above will cease, and the usual ESA standards will apply.

Should you have any questions regarding these changes, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Toronto Employment & Labour Department.

The author would like to acknowledge the support and assistance of Jillian Skinner  , articling student at law.

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.