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March 19, 2020

Ontario Passes COVID-19 Job Protected Leave Legislation

Author Hendrik Nieuwland

The Ontario Government has passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020.  It provides job-protected leave to provincially regulated employees who are unable to work for the following reasons:

  • the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19;


  • the employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act;


  • the employee is in isolation or quarantined in accordance with public health information or direction, which information or direction can be provided by a public health official, a qualified health practitioner, Telehealth Ontario, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada, a municipal council or a board of health;


  • the employer directs the employee not to work due to a concern that COVID-19 could be spread in the workplace;


  • the employee needs to provide care to a “person” (broadly defined below) for a reason related to COVID-19, which would include school or daycare closure;


  • the employee is prevented from returning to Ontario because of travel restrictions.

An employee can take this leave to care for a broad group of individuals, including their spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, in-laws, aunts or uncles, nephews or nieces, the spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece, or a person the employee considers to be like a family member.

An employee will not be required to provide a medical note to take this leave.  However, an employer may ask the employee to provide other evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances (e.g. a note from the daycare, or evidence a flight was cancelled).

The Act is retroactive to January 25, 2020. 

The Ontario Government has also reminded employers that they are required to report all occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in writing within 4 days, along with their joint health and safety committee, or a health and safety representative or union where applicable. 

The full text of the Act can be found at the following link:

The foregoing is for informational purposes only and should in no way be relied upon as legal advice. For legal advice tailored to your circumstances and business, please contact any of SOM LLP’s lawyer’s by email or telephone.

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