COVID-19 Important Update: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Updated
Updated: Dec 21, 2021
If you have been waiting patiently for the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave to end so the layoff clock could begin counting again, you'll have to wait a little longer, as there has been extension made in June.
How Ontario Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Works?
IDEL (INFECTIOUS DISEASE EMERGENCY LEAVE), O. Reg. 228/20, was established during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Non-unionized workers whose employers have temporarily reduced or cancelled their work hours owing to COVID-19 will be deemed on job-protected infectious disease emergency leave and will not be laid off or constructively fired at this time.
Although most companies are not required to provide benefits to laid-off employees, an IDEL employee is not "considered" laid off and therefore is eligible for benefits.
Click here to learn more about how the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave work.
Ontario Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Extensions
In September 2020, O. Reg. 492/20, was passed to extend deemed emergency leave under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) until January 2, 2021.
The leave has been further extended on or about June 4, 2021 under O. Reg. 412/21 which further extended the deemed emergency leave under ESA from July 3, 2021 to September 25, 2021.
On September 16, 2021, the Government of Ontario further extended the period for the province’s paid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) entitlement, in O. Reg. 650/21, from its original expiration date of September 25, 2021, to January 1, 2022.
On December 9, 2021, the Government of Ontario further extended the period for the province’s paid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) entitlement, in O. Reg. 834/21, from its original expiration date of January 1, 2022, to July 30, 2022.
When Will the Layoffs Clock Reset?
The only way to know whether the deadline will be extended is to wait and watch.
In other words, until IDEL curtails in September, employment legislation related to layoffs is temporarily statutory stopped.
For more information in this topic, please click here to learn more about what Employers and Employees MUST know starting July 31, 2022 and onward.
Prior to COVID, a business could only place an employee on a temporary layoff if the individual's contract permitted it. If the written employment contract does not include a provision for temporary layoffs, the Employer has NO RIGHT to lay off an employee unless the employee has expressly agreed, the employee has acquiesced by his or her conduct (i.e., has accepted previous layoffs without complaint), or there is a demonstrable industry norm that allows for such layoffs on a regular basis.
As a consequence, some workers may not have to wait long, while others may be able to bring a constructive dismissal claim as soon as the IDEL is terminated.
It is generally believed that a Judge would be reluctant to provide common law reliefs such as constructive dismissal in the event of Infectious Disease Emergency Leave.
In fact, at least one court has decided that "you have not been laid off, you have not been constructively fired, and you are on statutory leave of absence in these circumstances (COVID)." See e.g. Taylor v. Hanley Hospitality Inc., 2021 ONSC 3135.
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