Income Security Benefit for Ontario Workers, Form COVID-19

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) in Ontario was amended by the provincial government on April 29, 2021 to mandate that employers grant employees up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for certain reasons related to COVID19. Employees are also eligible for unpaid infectious

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) in Ontario was amended by the provincial government on April 29, 2021 to mandate that employers grant employees up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for certain reasons related to COVID19. Employees are also eligible for unpaid infectious disease emergency leave in addition to this benefit.

Certain events related to COVID19 qualify for paid infectious disease emergency leave.

  • seeking a COVID19 evaluation
  • hiding out pending test results for COVID19
  • falling ill due to the COVI19 virus
  • undergoing private mental health care for COVID19-related conditions
  • I'm about to go get vaccinated.
  • suffering from a reaction to a COVID19 vaccine
  • having been instructed to confine themselves due to the presence of COVID19 by one's employer, physician, or other designated authority
  • assisting a family member who has COVID19 by caring for them or supporting them in some other way
    • having or showing signs of having COVID19
    • on the advice of a doctor or other authorized person, living in isolation because of C.O.V.I.D.19
    • supporting their child through the vaccination process or any potential reactions to the COVID19 vaccine

In most cases, workers are entitled to be paid up to $200 per day for up to three days of unpaid leave from their employers.

Money paid out during leave is refunded by the employer.

The government will reimburse qualifying businesses up to $200 per worker, per day, for infectious disease emergency leave pay.

Only employees can receive ESA reimbursement from their employers. Find out more about who is considered an employee under the ESA.

Under the ESA, reimbursement is available only for infectious disease emergency leave pay. Employees are entitled to vacation pay for wages earned during the paid leave, but employers are not entitled to reimbursement.

The employer may, but is not required to, treat a partial day of paid infectious disease emergency leave as if it were a full day of leave if the employee requests it.

Please take note that regardless of whether or not an employer chooses to treat partial days as full days of paid leave, the maximum number of calendar days for which an application can be submitted is 3. In the above scenario, the employer can only seek reimbursement for three of the employee's leave days (the Monday half day, the Tuesday and Wednesday full days, and the Thursday half day).

Reimbursement Eligibility

Paying infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) may be reimbursed for some businesses, depending on the employee's other benefits.

If an employer does not provide paid days under an employment contract that could be used for COVID-19 related reasons for which paid IDEL is available as of April 19, 2021, and one or more of the following apply, the employer may be eligible for reimbursement of paid infectious disease emergency leave.

1. Employee took advantage of vacation time allotted by their employment agreement

If an employee used enough of their paid leave before April 19, 2021, per the terms of their employment agreement, to leave the company without at least three days of paid leave, the company is entitled to reimbursement. The length of time an employee has left on their contract will determine how much of a reimbursement the company is owed in this case.

Consider the following case:

  • If an employee is eligible for three days of paid leave under an employment contract and uses all three days before April 19, 2021, the employee is also eligible for three days of paid leave under the ESA, and the employer can seek reimbursement for these days.
  • Before April 19, 2021, an employer must pay for the unused portion of an employee's three days of paid leave. With only one day left on the employee's contract, the company would be eligible for ESA reimbursement for two days' worth of the employee's time off.
  • An employee who was granted five days of paid leave but only used two of them before April 19, 2021, would not be eligible for paid IDEL under the ESA because they still have three days of paid leave available under their employment contract. Therefore, the company cannot be reimbursed.

Second, the employee's ESA benefits were less than the contract's minimum salary.

If an employee takes leave under the ESA and the employer is required to pay less than the employee's entitlement (typically the wages the employee would have earned had they not taken leave, up to $200), the employer is entitled to reimbursement.

To illustrate, suppose an employee's paid leave clause in their employment contract stipulates that they will receive $100 per day while on leave. However, while on ESA paid leave they would have earned $150 per week. In this case, the employee's paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA will not be impacted by the day of paid leave taken under the contract. A $150 reimbursement is available to employers who have employees who take ESA-qualified emergency leave due to infectious diseases.

Contracts have more stringent requirements than the ESA

If the terms of the employment contract imposed restrictions on taking leave that exceeded those of the ESA, the employer is entitled to reimbursement.

Consider the case of an employee who contracts COVID19 but must provide a doctor's note in order to receive paid sick days per their employment contract. When taking infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) for which pay is provided under the ESA, employees need not provide a doctor's note. As part of the ESA, the company can seek reimbursement from the employee if the worker uses paid IDEL.

Reimbursement barring

For purposes of the Employment Standards Act (ESA), an employer is not entitled to reimbursement for payments made to an employee for paid infectious disease emergency leave if either of the following conditions apply:

  • Employee was compensated by the Workers' Compensation Insurance Board for the time off.
  • on or after April 19, 2021, the company will no longer provide the paid leave that was previously promised to employees.

Therefore, the COVID19 Worker Income Protection Benefit cannot be used by an employer to revoke an employee's contractually guaranteed right to paid leave.

Put in a claim for financial support.

Now that the Ontario COVID19 Worker Income Protection Benefit has been implemented, businesses can file claims with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to be reimbursed for providing it to their employees.

A request for payment of infectious disease emergency leave must be submitted no later than July 29, 2023, or within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee. After 120 days from the date of payment, the WSIB will no longer accept applications.

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the WSIB has received a full and accurate application. Incomplete applications will not be considered by the WSIB.

Make multiple submissions for the position

Employers can use the standard procedure to apply for up to ten workers at once. Up to fifty potential employees should apply using this method.

Submitting applications for more than 50 workers at once requires registering for bulk submission when filling out the intake form. If more information is needed, you will be prompted to do so after registering.

Find out where your claim stands

When your claim has been successfully submitted, you will be given a claim confirmation number. If you want the latest information on how your WSIB claim is doing, you can check on it at any time.

Plans for making payments

Two-weekly installments have been made beginning at the end of June. An accepted claim will be processed in about three weeks. The timeline is based on how detailed and complicated the claim is.

Enforcement and verification

Information provided by employers will be used by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for purposes of verifying reimbursement applications and processing payments.

Using a false or misleading application for reimbursement is illegal under the ESA. If the WSIB determines that an application contains false or misleading information, it will notify the Director of Employment Standards so that the matter can be further investigated and, if necessary, enforced.

Get help

Once you have your claim confirmation number, you can submit a support request if you have any questions about your claim or run into any technical difficulties.

Please contact the Ontario COVID19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre for more information on the program's eligibility requirements, application procedures, and rules. 1-888-999-2248 ( TTY: 1-866-567-88931 )

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