Employers must take note that paid infectious disease emergency leave (or “Paid IDEL”) is set to end on March 31, 2023.
Paid IDEL – which we initially detailed in an earlier Focus Alert – was one of many legislative measures passed by the Ontario government during the pandemic in an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Briefly, Paid IDEL allowed employers to provide eligible employees with their regular wages (up to $200 per day) for up to three (3) days for certain absences related to COVID-19, and to subsequently seek reimbursement through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Initially, access to Paid IDEL was set to expire on September 25, 2021 but it has been extended on several occasions throughout the pandemic, most recently until March 31, 2023.
Last week, the Government of Ontario released its 2023 Budget. Notably, the Budget revealed that access to Paid IDEL would not be subject to any further extensions. It will therefore end on March 31, 2023, as currently stipulated in O. Reg. 288/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (the “Regulation”) under the Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”), and employees will no longer enjoy access to Paid IDEL beyond that date.
In Our View
It is important to note that despite the end of Paid IDEL, unpaid infectious disease emergency leave (or “Unpaid IDEL”) does continue to remain available to eligible employees for as long as COVID-19 continues to be designated as an infectious disease pursuant to the Regulation. More specifically, Unpaid IDEL will remain available where an employee will not be performing the duties of their position because of one or more of the following reasons related to COVID-19:
- The employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to COVID-19,
- The employee is acting in accordance with an order of a medical officer of health or of the Ontario Court of Justice under the Health Protection and Promotion Act related to COVID-19,
- The employee is in quarantine or isolation or is subject to a control measure (e.g., self-isolation) implemented as a result of information or directions related to COVID-19 issued to the public 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 employee’s employer has directed them not to work in response to a concern that they may expose others in the workplace to COVID-19,
- The employee is providing care or support to one or more specified family member(s), including because of school or daycare closures,
- The employee is directly affected by travel restrictions related to COVID-19 and cannot reasonably be expected to travel back to Ontario, or
- Any other reason that may be prescribed under the ESA.