COVID-19 Tip #6: Ontario Infectious Disease Emergency Leave of Absence

Note: This post provides information on the Ontario infectious disease leave of absence.

For information on the potential application of other leaves of absence, including: bereavement leave, compassionate care leave, critical illness leave, family responsibility leave, family caregiver leave and sick leave, you may wish to sign up for Optimize Compliance or, if you need legal advice, consult a lawyer.

In what circumstances does Ontario’s new infectious disease leave of absence apply?

Ontario employees who are are not performing their work duties because of COVID-19, may take an unpaid infectious disease leave of absence.

More specifically, employees can take this leave if one or more of the following apply to them:

  • under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to COVID-19;
  • complying with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act that relates to COVID-19;
  • in quarantine or isolation or subject to a control measure (including self-isolation) due to directions from 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;
  • directed by their employer due to a concern that the employee may expose other individuals in the workplace to COVID-19;
  • providing care or support to a family member, including due to school or day care closures; or
  • directly affected by travel restrictions such that they cannot reasonably be expected to travel back to Ontario.

When can employees take this leave?

Entitlement to this leave is retroactive to January 25, 2020.

Employees are entitled to take an infectious disease leave in response to COVID-19 as long as:

  • they are not not performing their work duties due to the above reason(s); and
  • COVID-19 is designated as an infectious disease by the Ontario government.

Who qualifies as a family member?

Family member means:

  • the employee’s spouse, sibling or step-sibling, brother/sister-in-law, step-brother/sister-in-law;
  • the employee’s or their spouse’s parent, step-parent or foster parent, child, step-child or foster child, a child who is under legal guardianship, a grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild, son/daughter-in-law, uncle, aunt, a nephew, niece;
  • the spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece; and
  • a person who considers the employee to be like a family member.

Do employees have to provide a medical note?

No, employees do not have to provide a medical certificate. However, employers may require an employee to provide evidence of entitlement to the leave that is reasonable in the circumstances, at a reasonable time.

Employees must also advise the employer that they will be taking the leave as soon as possible.