On August 31, 2021 the Ontario government announced that it is extending the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit (“WIPB”) that requires employers to provide employees with up to three (3) days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for reasons related to COVID-19. The WIPB was originally set to expire on September 25, 2021 but has now been extended to December 31, 2021 due to the spread of the Delta variant.
By way of background, the WIPB was first introduced on April 29, 2021 through Bill 284, COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 (“Bill 284”). Bill 284 amended the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 to require all provincially-regulated employers to provide their employees with up to three (3) days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for reasons related to infectious disease, which includes COVID-19, and recovery from associated side effects. Under Bill 284, employees are eligible for up to three (3) days of paid leave if they meet any of the following criteria:
- The employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to COVID-19;
- The employee is obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine;
- The employee is recovering from associated side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine;
- The employee is under quarantine or self-isolation after being advised by an employer, public health official, a qualified health practitioner or other authority to do so; or
- The employee is providing care or support to a dependent who is sick with or suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 or who is self-isolating due to COVID-19 on the advice of a medical practitioner or other specified authority.
The WIPB provides employees with up to $200 per day (or the employee’s regular pay if the pay is less than $200 per day) for up to three (3) days of leave. Employers may be eligible to apply for reimbursement of the paid infectious disease emergency leave of up to $200 per employee per day from the government within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee. There are some certain circumstances where an employer is not entitled to claim reimbursement. For more information on the Ontario government’s announcement or the WIPB, please contact a member of our Dentons Employment and Labour group.