Ontario enacts COVID-19 paid sick leave legislation

April 29, 2021 | Michael Cleveland

On April 29, 2021, the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 (the “Act”) received Royal Assent in Ontario. The Act amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to require provincially-regulated employers in Ontario to provide employees with up to three days of paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19, including that the employee is:

  • going for a COVID-19 test
  • staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • being sick with COVID-19
  • going to get vaccinated
  • experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination
  • having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other authority
  • taking care of a dependent who is:
    • sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19
    • self-isolating due to COVID-19

Employers will be required to pay employees up to $200 a day (or their regular rate of pay, if less than $200) for up to 3 days. Employers can then apply for a reimbursement from the Ontario government of the amounts paid to the employee.

The paid days of leave do not need to be taken consecutively. Employers should note that employees are not required to provide a medical certificate in order to be eligible for this leave.

Employees who already receive an equal or greater amount of paid sick leave through their employer are not eligible for this benefit.

This leave will be available until September 25, 2021 and is retroactive to absences since April 19, 2021.

With the introduction of this leave, Ontario is the fourth province to provide for paid COVID-19 vaccination leave after Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Interaction with the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

For longer term absences, the Government of Canada currently offers the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). Employees are not eligible for the CRSB if they are receiving paid leave from their employer for the same period.

Further information about the above is available from the government’s press release here.

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