You may have heard the recent announcements from the Ontario Government that the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) was to be amended such that employers would not be obligated to provide at least three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave. Here is everything you need to know about taking leave related to COVID-19. 


In order to qualify for the three days of paid leave, the employee must fall under any one of the following categories: 

  • The employee is under medical investigation for, supervision of, or treatment for COVID-19 
    • This includes, e.g., going for a COVID-19 test, awaiting results of a COVID-19 test, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, experiencing side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, being sick with COVID-19 
  • The employee is following a public health order related to COVID-19  
  • The employee is quarantining or self-isolating, either voluntarily or involuntarily, according to a public health direction  
  • The employee’s employer has directed them to take a leave of absence due to the employer’s concern that the employee might infect others
    • E.g., if the employer tells an employee to stay home because they recently travelled overseas 
  • The employee is caring for a family member* because either (1) the family member is under medical investigation for, supervision or, or treatment for COVID-19, or (2) the family member is quarantining or self-isolating, either voluntarily or involuntarily, according to a public health direction
    • *Eligible family members include: 
      • Spouse
      • Parent, step-parent, or foster parent of the employee or their spouse 
      • Child, step-child, or foster child of the employee or their spouse 
      • Sibling of the employee or their spouse 
      • Grandparent of the employee or their spouse 
      • Grandchild of the employee or their spouse
      • Uncle or aunt of the employee or their spouse  
      • Nephew or niece of the employee or their spouse 
      • A person who considers the employee to be like a family member 
    • In the case of a child, this includes taking care of a child whose school is closed due to COVID-19, or a child whom the employee decided not to send to school out of fear of exposure to COVID-19 
  • The employee is caught by travel restrictions while outside of Ontario, and cannot be reasonably expected to travel back  


In order to be eligible for the three days of paid leave, the employee must be covered by the ESA. This means that independent contractors and federally regulated employees are not entitled to this leave. 

Employer reimbursement 

The Ontario Government will reimburse employers up to $200 per day per employee who takes leave, provided they apply to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within 120 days following the employer’s payment to the employee. 


If the employee believes that receiving paid leave will adversely affect their eligibility for, or the amount of benefit they would receive under, another program, the employee can opt out of paid leave by making this known to their employer in writing before the end of the pay period in which the leave occurs. 

Anisha Nag

Anisha Nag is a Juris Doctor student at Osgoode Hall Law School. She has extensive experience in immigration and refugee law and aspires to practice in this area of law upon her graduation in 2022. In 2021, Anisha participated in Osgoode Hall’s Intensive Program in Immigration and Refugee Law and completed a legal internship at the law office of Raoul Boulakia. Volunteer work is very important to Anisha. She has done pro bono legal research for the Centre for Refugee Studies and the Empowerment Council. She currently volunteers at the refugee shelter Romero House where she serves as an English as a Second Language tutor for teenaged refugees.

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