Infectious disease emergency leave for non-union workers extended by Ontario

In a news release received this morning, the Ontario government announced that it has enacted a new regulatory amendment that will put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. This will ensure businesses aren’t forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired.

Terminations triggered when temporary layoffs exceed the permitted length under the Employment Standards Act can result in costly payouts which, for many businesses, could be the difference between survival and closure. Under the new regulatory change to the Employment Standards Act, non-unionized employees who have had their hours reduced or eliminated because of the pandemic will be deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Workers will remain employed with legal protections and be eligible for federal emergency income support programs.

“As we take the necessary steps to safely and gradually restart the economy, we need to make sure business owners can reopen their doors and workers have jobs to go back to,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training & Skills Development. “This regulatory change will protect businesses from being forced to permanently lay off their employees due to COVID-19 and suffer a financial loss that could shutter their operations for good.”

Many businesses had to close or reduce operations to comply with emergency orders necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. According to Statistics Canada, 379,000 Ontario workers were temporarily laid off in April 2020, an increase of 2,496 per cent compared with one year earlier.

The regulatory amendment applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and will expire six weeks after the declared emergency ends. The regulatory amendments do not include employees represented by a trade union.

 

Deline,J. and Metlin,B.(2020,Jun1) Ontario Extending Infectious Disease Emergency Leave for Workers during COVID-19  [media release]

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