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Ontario Paid COVID Sick Leave – Latest Update

We blogged recently that there was ambiguity in the new amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), which require employers to provide employees with up to three paid sick days (up to $200/day) if they miss work due to certain reasons related to COVID-19.

Although neither the legislation nor the Ministry’s website has yet to be updated to confirm this officially, we understand that some Ministry of Labour officials have expressed the view that employees who had already exhausted their contractual paid sick leave entitlements for the year before April 19, 2021, would be eligible to receive a fresh entitlement to three, employer-paid COVID sick leave days.

Such informal statements do not have the force of law.  However, unless/until the legislation is amended to expressly clarify the issue, it may be advisable for employers to err on the side of providing the additional sick leave with pay to those employees who would be so eligible.  Of course, if the WSIB were to ultimately refuse to reimburse the employer based on a contrary interpretation, such employers may end up shouldering that financial burden.

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