Ontario workers including foodservice and hospitality employees are finally eligible for three paid COVID-19-related sick days under the new government Bill 284, Putting Ontario Workers First.
The Bill amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require employers to provide employees with up to three paid days of leave related to COVID-19, including:
- going for a COVID-19 test
- staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
- being sick with COVID-19
- going to get vaccinated or experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccine
- having been advised to self-isolate
- taking care of a dependent who is sick, has symptoms, or is self-isolating due to COVID-19.
The government emphasizes this
An employee is entitled to paid sick leave for up to three days between April 19, 2021, and September 25, 2021 (if an employee has taken 1-3 unpaid days between April 19 and April 29, 2021 [the date of Royal Assent of the Bill], the employee may advise the employer in writing within 14 days of April 29, 2021, that they want to be paid for that time off and the employer will pay the employee and seek reimbursement).
This three-day entitlement is in addition to the entitlement to unpaid leave
currently provided for under s. 50.1 of the ESA. The amendment also provides for reimbursement to an employer under
Tony Elenis, President & CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) said that he and the association “appreciate that there is no additional new cost to businesses.”
“The hospitality industry has been struggling for over a year and many are just hanging on,” added Elenis. “We urge the government to expedite the reimbursement of sick-day pay to employers to due cash-flow issues experienced as a result of depressed revenues.”
Eligible employers are able to apply for a reimbursement of up to $200 per day taken, from the Ontario government. If the employee’s regular rate of pay is less than $200 per day, the employer will only be eligible for reimbursement of the employee’s regular rate of pay. Eligible employers would need to make their application for reimbursement within 120 days of
the paid leave.
The employer can submit a request to be reimbursed for up to $200/day/employee for each COVID sick day (at the employee’s usual wage). This will entail completing and submitting a form to the WSIB (likely online). Any requests for reimbursement must be made within 120 days of the payment to the employee. This form has not yet been designed.