Back in March 2020, the Ontario Government passed legislation to implement the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Regulation (also known as IDEL) to allow employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, in April 2021, paid IDEL was introduced to provide employees with three paid days of leave under the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave Regulation.
The IDEL regulation expiry date has been extended many times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, most recently the regulation was extended to be available until July 31, 2021, for paid IDEL and July 30, 2021, for deemed IDEL.
This article will provide a refresher on clarifying exactly what the IDEL regulation includes, who is eligible, and any additional information workers need to know in preparation for 2022.
DEEMED UNPAID IDEL
Deemed IDEL is an unpaid leave that employees can take if they are unable to perform their regular duties for any of the following reasons:
- They are under medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to COVID-19
- They are acting in accordance with an order from a medical officer of health or judge in relation to COVID-19
- They are in quarantine or isolation or are subject to a control measure related to COVID-19
- They are under a direction given by an employer in response to a concern that they may expose other individuals in the workplace to COVID-19
- They are providing care or support to a designated individual (i.e., parent) because of a matter related to COVID-19 that concerns that individual, including, but not limited to, school or day care closures
- They are directly affected by travel restrictions related to COVID-19 and, under the circumstances, cannot reasonably be expected to travel back to Ontario.
IDEL is a deemed leave until regulation expires, this means that employees are considered to be on IDEL if they are unable to work for any of the above reasons.
WHAT ARE THE EMPLOYEE ENTITLEMENTS UNDER IDEL?
Under IDEL, an employee has the following rights as long as they remain on leave:
- The right to reinstatement after your leave, in the same position or a comparable one, if your position no longer exists
- The right to be free from reprisal/penalty arising from the fact that you took a leave
- The right to continue to participate in benefits
- The right to continue to earn credit/seniority for your length of service
HOW LONG IS DEEMED IDEL?
IDEL does not have a set maximum length. An employee can continue to be away from work under the IDEL until the reason that you are on leave no longer exists or until the legislation removes COVID-19 from being a designated infectious disease (July 30, 2022), whichever comes first.
After July 30, 2022, employees may continue to be eligible for unpaid IDEL if they continue to be unable to work for the above reasons, however, employees may be required to provide their employers with notice if they are continuing to be off work on IDEL.
In April 2021, the Ontario Government introduced legislation that requires employers to provide three paid days of IDEL. Employees must be on a leave from work for the above listed reasons to be eligible to receive three paid days.
The paid entitlement has been extended to July 31, 2022. However, it is important to note that employees will not receive an additional three paid days starting in 2022. Employees are only entitled to three paid days in total throughout the entire time that IDEL applies.
OTHER EXTENDED CHANGES TO EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS
In addition to the unpaid and paid leave entitlements under the IDEL Regulation, this most recent extension will also extend other temporary ESA measures that were implemented in response to COVID-19.
Employees whose hours of work or wages are temporarily reduced for COVID-19 related reasons will not be considered to be laid off. Rather, the maximum time for a temporary layoff (13 weeks) will start on July 31, 2022.
Employees whose hours of work or wages are temporarily reduced or eliminated for COVID-19 related reasons will not be considered to be constructively dismissed until the regulation is no longer in force (July 31, 2022).
Please note that The IDEL Regulation is only related to the rules in the Employment Standards Act, 2000. While this is an evolving area of law, employees may have entitlements under the common law.
CONTACT SULTAN LAWYERS IN TORONTO FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COVID-19 REGULATIONS AND WORKPLACE CONCERNS
If you have questions relating to the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, termination, temporary layoff from your employment or how COVID-19 regulations impact your employment, please contact Toronto employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers, at 416-214-5111 or here.
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