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Over the past year, Ontario implemented the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave regulation. The leave essentially paused the typical employer liabilities in relation to temporary layoffs, reduced hours, and reduced wages to allow employers to react to the effects of COVID-19 on their business.

This temporary measure is scheduled to expire on July 3, 2021. This blog will summarize Infectious Disease Emergency Leave as it relates to temporary layoffs and outline some considerations as we get closer to July 3.

This is an important topic as it has a direct impact on issues such as termination of employment and wrongful dismissal.

Temporary Layoffs

Prior to the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, the Ontario Employment Standards Act 2000 (“ESA”), stated that the maximum period for a temporary layoff was 13 weeks, after which, if the employee was not recalled, their employment was deemed to be terminated and their notice entitlements were triggered.

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

Under the temporary regulation, employees whose employment has been temporarily eliminated or reduced between March 1, 2020, and July 3, 2021, because of COVID-19 are deemed to be off on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, rather than being constructively dismissed or laid off.

While this measure protects the jobs of workers, there is also the potential of employees being laid off since March of 2020 without the ability to claim that their employment has been permanently terminated and receive their notice or severance entitlements.

Employees must also be aware that these measures only apply to changes in employment because of COVID-19. If your employer reduces your pay or hours or temporarily lays you off for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, you may be entitled to notice of termination and/or severance.

What should employees keep in mind after the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave?

As of July 4, 2021, employees will no longer be deemed to be on infectious disease emergency leave, and the regular rules under the ESA will apply.

Regarding temporary layoffs, the maximum period clock will be restarted on July 4, 2021. This means that employees who have been placed on a temporary layoff and who are not recalled will be deemed to have their employment terminated as of October 3, 2021 (13 weeks from July 4th). At that point, you may have a claim against your employer to receive your notice and severance entitlements.

Employees should also remember that after being off on a statutory leave, they have the right to be reinstated to their previously held position if it still exists. If the previous position no longer exists, their employer must reinstate them to a comparable position.

The bottom line is, employees are entitled to be compensated by their employers for a permanent severing of their employment. If you are being dismissed in relation to COVID-19, or otherwise, you are entitled to a severance package.

If you have questions relating to the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, termination, temporary layoff from your employment or how these regulations impact your employment, please contact Toronto employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers, at 416-214-5111 or khayward@sultanlawyers.com.


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