Paid Sick Leave in Ontario for Reasons Related to COVID-19

  • June 05, 2021
  • Andrew Shaw, Ajanthana Anandarajah and Alessandra Fusco

On April 29, 2021, the Ontario government passed Bill 284, COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 amending the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the "ESA") to require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid leave if they miss work for reasons related to COVID-19. The entitlement is retroactive to April 19, 2021 and will end on September 25, 2021, with the possibility that it might be extended.

Eligibility for Paid Leave for Reasons Related to COVID-19

Bill 284, COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 adds three paid days of leave for reasons related to COVID-19 to the ESA. Employees are entitled to three days of paid leave if they are:

  • under medical investigation, supervision or treatment related to COVID-19;
  • going to get vaccinated;
  • experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination; 
  • under a direction from their employer, medical practitioner or other authority to self-isolate;
  • providing care or support to a dependent who is:
    • sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19; or
    • self-isolating due to COVID-19

Employees are not required to provide a medical note in order to qualify for this leave.

Calculation of Paid Leave Benefit

The leave under Bill 284 will be calculated and paid out by using the employee’s regular rate of pay. The legislation provides that employers will be required to pay the employee the lesser of $200 per day and either: i) the wages the employee would have earned had they not taken the leave, or ii) if the employee receives commissions or tips, 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. Eligible employees will be paid up to a maximum of $200 per day.

If the paid leave falls on a day or time of day when overtime pay, a shift premium or both may be made by the employer, the employee will not be entitled to more than their regular rate. Employees are also not entitled to premium pay if the paid day of leave falls on a public holiday. Employees are entitled to take the three paid days of leave before any unpaid days of leave.