The Ontario Government recently passed the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act. Employers are now mandated to provide employees up to three days of paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19, including:
The three days do not need to be taken consecutively.
The program will be administered through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), and will end on September 25, the same date that the federal government’s Canada Recovery and Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is set to expire.
The three days of paid leave are available to employees who:
Please note that employers cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a doctor or nurse as evidence.
Eligible employers can apply for a reimbursement of up to $200 per employee day taken from the WSIB. If the employee’s regular rate of pay is less than $200 day, the employer will only be eligible for a reimbursement of the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Payments will be retroactive to April 19, 2021. Employers will be required to track these days for each employee and submit reports to receive reimbursements. Eligible employers are to make their application for reimbursement within 120 days of the paid leave.
For longer-term absences, the Government of Canada currently offers the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). The CRSB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick, need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Paid sick days as part of the Putting Workers First Program may be used to bridge the gap for employees waiting on their CRSB payments.
Many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat and cover their fixed costs, such as rent and insurance, while taking a negative impact on their revenues. Government assistance has emerged to help businesses pay for their rent, but many have had their fate put into the hands of their landlords to apply for the assistance. The new Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is being introduced to provide rent relief for businesses and allows these businesses to apply to the assistance directly as opposed to waiting for their landlords to do so.