COVID-19 – Ontario Proposes Amendments to the Employment Standards Act

On March 16, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced the Ontario government’s intention to amend the Employment Standards Act to provide employees with new protections during the novel COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of these amendments is to provide job security for employees who must isolate or self-quarantine, or care for their loved ones. In addition, the job protections found in the proposed legislation may also limit the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario. 

As announced in the Ontario government’s news release, employees who are unable to work for the following reasons would be provided further protection: 

  • Employees under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19; 
  • Employees acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act
  • Employees in isolation or quarantine; 
  • Employees acting in accordance with public health information or direction; and
  • Employees needing to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19, such as a school or daycare closures. 

In addition, employees would not be required to provide their employers with medical notes upon taking leave for the above reasons. If passed, these amendments would come into force retroactively on January 25, 2020, which was the date of the first confirmed presumptive case of COVID-19 in Ontario. 

If you are an employee or employer in need of assistance, please contact a member of our Employment Law Group.