Ontario to Protect Workers who Take Leaves from Work

TORONTO — Ontario is acting immediately to offer job protection for workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Today, Premier Doug Ford and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, announced that the government intends to introduce legislation that, if passed, would immediately provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures. “While everyone’s concerns about their health and safety are top of mind, the last thing we need is anyone worrying about job security as the COVID-19 situation evolves,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why I directed the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development to draft legislation that will offer job protection for workers during the COVID-19 situation”

“Mothers and fathers who need to care for children or dependants shouldn’t have to worry about losing their job,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “The same goes for people who receive medical or public health advice and are required to take precautions as a result. They shouldn’t have to worry about losing their job. In this time of uncertainty, we need to support employees who must isolate or quarantine themselves, or who need to care for a loved one.”

The proposed legislation would, if passed, provides job protection for workers during the COVID-19 outbreak, especially those who 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 quarantine.
  • The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
  • The employer directs the employee not to work.
  • The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.

The proposed legislation would also make it clear that an employee will not be required to provide a medical note if they take the leave. The measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario. Many workers will be eligible for Employment Insurance sickness benefits. As well, we are reviewing current access and eligibility to emergency assistance which is available through the Ontario Works (OW) program to support individuals who are impacted by the coronavirus and who are not able to meet their basic living expenses.

“The health and well-being of Ontarians continues to be our government’s number one priority,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We are actively working with our partners at all levels in the health care system and implementing enhanced and comprehensive measures to prevent the spread of this virus and protect the health of all Ontarians.” “These job protections could also contribute significantly to limiting the spread of COVID-19,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “We are giving everyone the tools they need to put their health and the health of others first, without fear of losing their jobs.”

With years of experience in this ever-changing area of law, we at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you’re looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

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