Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
On March 23, 2023, Ontario released its 2023 Ontario Budget: Building a Strong Ontario (2023 Budget). The Budget provides that Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (Paid IDEL) will expire on March 31, 2023.
Paid IDEL1 first became available when, on April 29, 2021, Bill 284, COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require employers to provide employees with up to three days’ pay if they missed work for certain reasons relating to COVID-19, retroactive to April 19, 2021, and until September 25, 2021. Such reasons for leave include getting tested; awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test; being sick with COVID-19; getting individual medical treatment for mental health reasons relating to COVID-19; getting vaccinated; experiencing side effects from a vaccination; self-isolating; and providing care or support to certain relatives for COVID-19-related reasons.
Paid IDEL was extended several times by Regulation. Its most recent extension occurred on July 21, 2022, when Ontario filed Regulation 464/22, amending O. Reg. 228/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Regulation to extend the availability of Paid IDEL until March 31, 2023.
Eligible employers are entitled to apply for a reimbursement from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) of payments made to employees who take paid IDEL , up to a maximum of $200 per day per employee. Applications for reimbursement can be made through this link; however, they must be made within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee, or by July 29, 2023 (whichever is earlier). The WSIB cannot process applications submitted after 120 days .
Unpaid IDEL Continues to Be Available to Eligible Employees
Although Paid IDEL will not be available after March 31, 2023, for as long as COVID-19 is designated an “infectious disease” by O. Reg. 228/20, employees will continue to have the right to take unpaid IDEL if they are not performing the duties of their position for any of the following reasons related to COVID-19: the employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to COVID-19; the employee is following a COVID‑19-related order issued under the Health Promotion and Protection Act; the employee is in quarantine, isolation (voluntary or involuntary), or is subject to a control measure implemented as a result of information or directions related to COVID-19, and 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 employee is under a direction given by their employer in response to the employer’s concern that the employee might expose other individuals in the workplace to COVID-19; the employee is providing care or support to specified individuals (family members) because of a matter related to COVID-19; or the employee is directly affected by travel restrictions related to COVID-19 that prevent them from travelling back to Ontario. There is no specified limit to the number of days an employee can be on unpaid IDEL. Employers may ask for “evidence reasonable in the circumstances,” “at a time reasonable in the circumstances,” to verify the unpaid IDEL; however, they cannot require medical certificates.
1 For more information on IDEL, see Rhonda B. Levy and George Vassos, Ontario, Canada Releases Details About Employer Reimbursement Process for Paid COVID-19 Leave, Littler ASAP (June 4, 2021); Rhonda B. Levy and Monty Verlint, Ontario, Canada Extends COVID-19 Paid Sick Days to July 31, 2022 and Deemed IDEL to July 30, 2022, Littler ASAP (Dec. 13, 2021); Rhonda B. Levy and George Vassos, Ontario, Canada: Three Paid COVID Sick Days Extended Until March 31, 2023, Littler ASAP (July 22, 2022); Rhonda B. Levy, George Vassos and Monty Verlint, Ontario, Canada: Availability of Deemed IDEL Ended on July 30, 2022 But Unpaid and Paid IDEL Still Available to Eligible Employees, Littler ASAP (Aug. 10, 2022).