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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government made a regulation that changed certain Employment Standards Act (ESA) rules during the “COVID-19 period.” This regulation has been amended to extend the COVID-19 period to July 3, 2021.

Extension of the COVID-19 Period

During the COVID-19 period (March 1, 2020 to July 3, 2021):

  • A non-unionized employee is deemed to be on a job-protected infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced or temporarily eliminated by their employer for reasons related to COVID-19.  
  • A non-unionized employee is not considered to be laid off under the ESA if their employer temporarily reduces or temporarily eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19. 
  • A non-unionized employee is not considered to be constructively dismissed under the ESA if their employer temporarily reduces or temporarily eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19.
Beginning on July 4, 2021:
  • Non-unionized employees will no longer be deemed to be on infectious disease emergency leave.
  • The ESA’s regular rules around constructive dismissal will resume. This means a significant reduction or elimination of an employee’s hours of work or wages may be considered a constructive dismissal, even if it was done for reasons related to COVID-19. 
  • The ESA’s regular rules around temporary layoff resume. For practical purposes, a non-unionized employee’s temporary layoff clock re-sets on July 4, 2021.  
Learn more about these COVID-19: Temporary changes to ESA rules or read the regulation (O. Reg. 228/20).  

Please Note: Even though the COVID-19 period ends on July 3, 2021 and non-unionized employees will no longer be deemed after July 3, 2021 to be on infectious disease emergency leave, unionized and non-unionized employees may continue to be eligible to take infectious disease emergency leave if they are not performing the duties of their position for certain reasons related to COVID-19.


New Special Rule about Interaction of Recall Rights, Termination Pay and Severance Pay for Unionized Workplaces in Certain Industries 


A new regulation came into force on December 17, 2020 that creates a special rule relating to the system in the ESA that governs the interaction between recall rights, termination pay and severance pay.   
 
The special rule may apply to unionized employees and their employers in the hospitality, tourism and convention and trade show industries. The special rule lasts for one year. 
 
Read more about recall rights under or read the regulation with the special rule (O. Reg. 764/20)

If you need help understanding your employment standards rights and responsibilities, you can:
  • Visit Your guide to the Employment Standards Act at Ontario.ca/ESAguide.
  • Call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551 or TTY (for hearing impaired) at 1-866-567-8893. Information is available in many languages.
  • Get advice from a lawyer.
To learn more about COVID-19, employers’ responsibilities and job protections available to employees, visit Ontario.ca/COVID.

Thank you, 
 
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Employment Standards Program
400 University Avenue, 9th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 1T7
Canada

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Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development · 400 University Avenue, 9th Floor · Toronto, ON M7A 1T7 · Canada