After almost six months of school closures across Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school is now back in session for most students. The provincial government’s education model includes a voluntary back-to-school regime that provides parents and students with the option to engage in online learning from home or to have children physically attend at school. With recent cases of COVID-19 on the rise this fall, outlined below is a summary of what employers should be aware of regarding their obligations to accommodate employees with children that are not attending in-person school or childcare.[1]

Grounds for Taking the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

The Government of Ontario confirmed at the start of September that despite several businesses being fully reopened and operating through an in-person model, employees are still eligible for leave protection under the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”) regulation. This unpaid leave allows employees to care for their children in the event of a school or daycare closure, if the school protocol mandates the child’s absence, or if the child is sick and must stay home as a precautionary measure. However, the Government has gone one step further and stated that this leave is also available to parents who choose not to send their children back to school out of fear of contracting the virus.[2] This announcement clarified that fear alone is sufficient to keep an employee’s children home from school and be eligible for IDEL.


Continue Reading Back to School: An Employer’s Obligations to its Parental Employees

The Ontario Government amended a previous regulation to extend deemed infectious disease emergency leave (“IDEL”) under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) until January 2, 2021.

This is an update to our previous blog post, Ontario Files New ESA Regulation Affecting COVID-19-Related Leaves, Temporary Layoffs & Constructive Dismissals, where, on May 29, 2020, the Ontario Government filed a new regulation changing the rules regarding employee eligibility for IDEL, temporary layoffs and constructive dismissals under the ESA. The regulation retroactively “deems” non-union employees who were not performing their duties, working reduced hours, or receiving reduced wages (at the employer’s behest) to be on IDEL.

Previously, the regulation dealt with the time period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending “six weeks after the declared emergency ends.” The Government has called this the “COVID-19 Period.” However, the Ontario Government has now extended this “COVID-19 Period” to January 2, 2021.


Continue Reading Ontario Amends ESA Regulation Affecting COVID-19-Related Leaves, Temporary Layoffs & Constructive Dismissals by Extending COVID-19 Period

On July 17, 2020, the federal government announced that it would extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (“CEWS”) until December of 2020, and proposed several significant changes that will, among other things, allow more employers to access subsidies.

On July 20, 2020, the federal government introduced Bill C-20, An Act respecting further

If you are an Ontario employer who has implemented, or is considering implementing, temporary layoffs, wage reductions, or hours of work reductions, the Ontario Government’s recent changes will matter to you.

On May 29, 2020, the Ontario Government filed a new regulation changing the rules regarding employee eligibility for infectious disease emergency leave, temporary layoffs and constructive dismissals under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), with retroactive effect.

Below is a summary of the most important aspects of this new regulation and why the changes will matter to your workplace and employees.

How Long Do These Changes Last?

The regulation applies retroactively, dealing primarily with the time period beginning March 1, 2020 and ending six weeks after the declared emergency ends. The Government has called this the “COVID-19 Period”. The Government recently extended the current declared emergency until June 30, meaning the regulation will be operative until at least August 11, 2020. A further extension to the declared emergency is possible, and this would automatically extend the life of the new regulation.


Continue Reading Ontario Files New ESA Regulation Affecting COVID-19-Related Leaves, Temporary Layoffs & Constructive Dismissals

We are excited to share with you the BNN Bloomberg article, “As new work realities set in, here’s what employees should know.” Kevin Coon was interviewed for this article which addresses how employees should handle finances related to the workplace, including home office expenses, filing taxes, paid sick leave, and knowing what they can expect

As COVID-related restrictions begin to be lifted, employers are properly focused on ensuring that their workplaces and workforces are prepared for reopening. However, there is some suggestion that full or partial reclosings, followed by subsequent reopenings, may need to occur until a vaccine is developed, mass immunity exists, or sufficient treatment methods are implemented. As

Our last installment focused on preparing physical workplaces for reopening, having regard to public health and occupational health and safety requirements. At this point, employers following along are alive to critical legal considerations that are unique to physical workplaces. In this installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook we discuss complex legal and practical considerations to return workforces to “COVID-prepared” workplaces.
Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 3)

Planning the Return to Work Process

With the pandemic situation continuously evolving, it can be difficult to think about anything besides the immediate response. The early days of the pandemic required employers to act fast and make quick decisions to protect workers, safeguard client/customer relationships, and stabilize operations. But, as restrictions are gradually lifted, and we move beyond the immediate crisis phase, employers across Canada need to carefully plan how to reopen workplaces, resume operations, and get people back to work. A carefully planned and deliberate approach to reopening is required to protect workers in the short-term and remain resilient in the long-term.

This installment of The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook will address key issues employers should consider when planning to reopen physical workspaces.
Continue Reading The Canadian Employers’ Reopening Playbook (Part 2)