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HOW COVID-19 reshapes the landscape of Employment Law

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EMERGENCY LEAVE (IDEL), O. Reg. 228/20 was introduced. During this time a non-unionized employee whose employer has temporarily reduced or eliminated their hours of work for reasons related to COVID-19 is deemed to be on a job-protected infectious disease emergency leave and will neither be considered being laid off nor being constructively dismissed. Although most of the time employers do not need to pay benefits for laid off workers, an employee that’s on IDEL is not “considered” being laid off, and thus shall continue to receive benefits.

 

In September, 2020, O. Reg. 492/20 was introduced where the Ontario Government amended O.Reg. 228/20 to extend deemed emergency leave under Employment Standards Act (ESA) to January 2, 2021. In December 17, 2020, O. Reg. 765/20 was introduced where the Ontario Government further amended O.Reg. 228/20 to extend deemed emergency leave under ESA from January 2, 2021 to July 3, 2021. The “temporary layoff clock” reset on July 3, 2021: Unpaid temporary layoffs lasting 13 weeks or more will be deemed a termination of employment; and paid temporary layoffs lasting 35 weeks or more will be deemed a termination of employment. Only time will tell whether the deadline will be further extended.

In essence, employment law in related to layoffs are temporarily statutory suspended until IDEL curtails in July 3, 2021. Although it's unclear whether reliefs under common law such as constructive dismissal in related to layoffs is being suspended in tandem, it's generally believed that a Judge will be very reluctant in granting reliefs in this regard.

You can learn more about the impact of IDEL on the Employment Standards Act (ESA) by visiting the link below:

https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0/infectious-disease-emergency-leave

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