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Updated: COVID-Related Paid Days Off

By July 25, 2022June 27th, 2023Employment Law

This information has been updated as of July 25th. We will continue to keep you informed of any future updates as they occur.

New amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) under the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 have extended the 3 paid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) days for each employee – now available retroactively between April 19, 2021, and March 31, 2023previously July 31, 2022.

IDEL began as an unpaid leave of absence that employees could take for COVID-related reasons. However, the 2021 amendments to the ESA mandated that the employer pay the first 3 days of the IDEL. This update is also known as the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit and has now been extended to Spring 2023. Here are the details of the changes that dentists should be aware of:

When Can The IDEL Days be Taken?

An employee can take up to 3 paid IDEL days if the employee will not be performing the duties of their position because:

  • The employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to the designated infectious disease (treatment includes being vaccinated against COVID-19).
  • The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act that relates to COVID-19.
  • The employee is in quarantine or isolation or is subject to a control measure (which may include self-isolation), and the quarantine, isolation or control measure was implemented as a result of information or directions issued by a public health official, a qualified health practitioner, Telehealth Ontario, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada, a municipal council or a board of health.
  • The employee is under a direction given by their employer in response to a concern of the employer that the employee may expose other individuals in the workplace to the designated infectious disease.
  • The employee is providing care or support to a relative (or someone who the person considers to be family) because they are under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to the designated infectious disease, or if they are in quarantine or isolation or subject to a control measure (including self-isolation).
You should also take note that you can only apply to be reimbursed for a maximum of three days total. Even though paid IDEL has been extended into this year, the number of days that employees are entitled to is for the entire declared “COVID Period.” This means that if an employee took 2 days of paid IDEL leave in 2021, they are only entitled to 1 day in 2022. The entitlement of paid IDEL days does not “start over” with the new calendar year, unlike some sick day policies.

Amount of Pay

The amount of pay employees are entitled to is the lesser of $200 per day and either:

  • the wages the employee would have earned had they not taken the leave, or
  • if the employee receives performance-related wages, including commissions, the greater of the employee’s hourly rate, if any, and the minimum wage that would have applied to the employee for the number of hours the employee would have worked had they not taken the leave

If a paid IDEL day is taken on a day that would typically be paid at a premium (such as overtime pay, holiday pay, etc.), the employee will not be entitled to the premium payment.

Exceptions and Explanations

If your employee has an existing contract that provides them with paid days off (the pay must be at least equal to the payments provided under the ESA), they can use it instead of the paid IDEL leave. Then the employee’s entitlement to the additional 3 days under the ESA will be reduced by the employee’s entitlements under their contract.

Partial days taken can be deemed by the Employer to be entire days and paid out as such.

If an employee takes more than 3 days of IDEL, the employer must pay out the first 3 days of the leave UNLESS the employee asks (in writing and before the days are paid out) to take that time as unpaid leave. In other words, employees can elect not to get paid for the 3 days of IDEL leave – but that seems like an unlikely scenario.

Employers Can Ask for Evidence

If you suspect that an employee is misusing the paid days off, you may require the employee to provide evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances that proves the employee is entitled to the leave. However, the employer cannot require the employee to provide a certificate from a qualified health practitioner as evidence.

For example, if the employee states that they are going to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and need the day off to do so, you can require them to provide the certificate of vaccination, which will show the date.

What Will This Cost Me?

Let’s assume you own a small to mid-size dental practice. You have 5 employees who work approximately 8 hours per day and make at least $25/hr or more. As the employer, you will owe ~$3,000 in additional pay, assuming all 5 employees take advantage of the 3 paid days off. Of course, you will also need to make payroll contributions and deductions as required by law.

A larger practice with 10 employees may owe in the vicinity of $6,000. It depends on the size of your dental office and the pay rates of your employees.

Will Employers Be Reimbursed?

Yes – you can seek reimbursement through the WSIB. The Act states that an employer will need to provide the following information:

  • an application form confirming all the details of the payment
  • an attestation confirming the provision of the leave, specific dates the leave was taken, amount of payment, etc.
  • a record of the payment made to the employee
  • information about other claims filed with WSIB in respect of the employee
    • this is to confirm the employee is not already receiving WSIB benefits for the days of leave

Employers can apply for reimbursement here within 120 days of being made to the employee but cannot make any applications later than July 29, 2023previously November 28, 2022.

For more information on the IDEL regulations or an employer’s responsibilities during the pandemic, please refer to our Employment Law Changes & Updates section for the latest announcements in provincial and federal policies.

Or you can contact us directly. DMC is dedicated to helping dentists understand and minimize the risks associated with being an employer. Send DMC an email or give our employment team a call at 416-443-9280.

The Content of this post is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal, financial, tax, or other professional advice of any kind. You are advised to contact DMC (or other counsel) to seek specific legal advice concerning your individual situation.