Employees in Ontario will now be entitled to three days of paid COVID-19 sick leave.
The COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act was passed in the Ontario legislature on April 29, 2021. The legislation requires employers to provide employees with up to $200 of pay for up to three days if they miss work because of COVID-19-related reasons. Employees won't have to take the three days off consecutively.
The Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Program will be retroactive to April 19, 2021 and effective until September 25, 2021.
What reasons may the leave be availed for?
The reasons include:
- Sickness due to COVID-19
- Going for a COVID-19 test or awaiting the results of one
- Time taken off to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot or to recuperate from a side effect experienced due to vaccination.
- If an employee has been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19
- Or if one is taking care of a dependent who is sick/having symptoms or self-isolating due to COVID-19
Who would be eligible for the leave?
Employees covered by the Employment Standards Act and those who do not already receive paid sick leave through their employer would be able to use the three-day leave.
Independent contractors or federally regulated employees would not be eligible.
Is a doctor's note required?
No. Employees will not have to provide a doctor’s note as evidence.
How will the employers be reimbursed?
Eligible employers will apply for a reimbursement of up to $200 per employee day taken from the Ontario government. If an employee’s regular rate of pay is less than $200 a day, the employer will only be reimbursed the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Eligible employers would have to apply for reimbursement within 120 days of the paid leave. Ontario will partner with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to deliver the program and reimburse employers.
The Ontario government will be providing more details on how to apply soon.
What about financial support for longer absences?
Employees can apply for the federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). This program provides income support for those not able to work because they are sick with COVID-19 or need to self-isolate or have a health condition that places them at an increased risk for contracting COVID-19. You can read more on the eligibility criteria here.
At present, if eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a one-week period. You will need to re-apply to the program if your situation continues beyond a week.
Eligible applicants may apply up to a total of four weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
Ontario government is also working with the federal government to double CRSB payments to Ontario residents.
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