COVID-19: Temporary pandemic pay
Learn about temporary financial support for eligible frontline and support workers fighting coronavirus (COVID-19).
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The eligibility period for Ontario’s pandemic pay has ended. Eligible employees will receive payments retroactively for all work performed between April 24, 2020 and August 13, 2020.
In early June, employers started to receive funding from the government, though exact timelines vary per sector.
Eligible employees will receive pandemic pay through their existing payroll systems, with appropriate accountability requirements in place to ensure that funding is provided to eligible employees.
Temporary pandemic pay was aimed at helping frontline staff who are experiencing severe challenges and are at heightened risk during the COVID-19 outbreak.
It was a targeted program designed to support employees who work in congregate care settings or primarily with vulnerable populations, where maintaining physical distancing is difficult or not possible.
The goals of this temporary pandemic pay were to:
- provide additional support and relief to frontline workers
- encourage staff to continue working and attract prospective employees
- help maintain safe staffing levels and the operation of critical frontline services
How much you can get
There were two kinds of pandemic pay:
- a temporary top-up based on your hourly wages
- monthly lump sum payments
Work performed on and after April 24 until August 13, 2020 is eligible for the hourly pandemic pay and counts towards determining eligibility for the pandemic lump sum payment.
Pandemic pay on hourly wages
If you are eligible, you will receive $4 per hour worked on top of your existing hourly wages, regardless of how much you already make.
Eligible workers will receive the temporary hourly pandemic pay directly from their employer.
Monthly lump sum payments
If you worked at least 100 hours in a designated 4-week period, you are also eligible to receive an additional lump sum payment of $250 for that period.
The designated 4-week periods were:
- April 24, 2020 to May 21, 2020
- May 22, 2020 to June 18, 2020
- June 19, 2020 to July 16, 2020
- July 17, 2020 to August 13, 2020
This means you may receive up to a total of $1,000 in lump sum payments for work performed over these 16 weeks.
The 100-hour threshold worked out to approximately three days worked per week over a designated four-week period. It also recognized the contributions of both full-time and part-time employees.
Pandemic lump sum payments:
- are only available to eligible frontline employees who have worked 100 hours or more in one of the designated four-week periods at an eligible workplace
- are not pro-rated for eligible frontline employees who worked less than 100 hours in one of the designated four-week periods
- are determined for each four-week period on a stand-alone basis, so you may be eligible to receive a pandemic lump sum payment for one designated four-week period and not for the subsequent one if you worked less than 100 hours
- are based on all hours worked in a designated week by eligible employees in eligible workplaces, including:
- cumulative time working for two or more employers
Eligible staff will be paid retroactively for hours worked during this period. Employees should talk to their employer for questions on how lump sum payments are being administered.
Eligible employees who worked in multiple eligible workplaces will receive the pandemic lump sum payment from the employer they worked the most hours for in the designated four-week period. These employees are required to attest to the number of hours worked with each employer, and that they have not submitted a request to receive the lump sum from more than one employer. Employees can contact their employers to confirm what documentation is required for payments to be made.
Employees are eligible for a maximum of one pandemic lump sum payment for each designated four-week period. For example, an employee who worked more than 100 hours in one of the designated four-week periods would still only receive $250.
How to get temporary pandemic pay
If you are an eligible frontline worker, you will receive the temporary hourly pandemic pay directly from your employer.
We are working closely with employers to transfer funding so temporary pandemic pay can be provided to eligible frontline employees.
Employers were not asked to apply for pandemic pay. Funding agreements will be in place with all eligible employers or service delivery partners.
Who is eligible
Temporary pandemic pay was designed to support eligible employees who worked between April 24 and August 13, 2020.
Pandemic pay does not apply to management employees, including individuals in managerial positions who were redeployed to work in eligible front-line positions. Employers were responsible for determining what positions are managerial in their organization.
Eligibility is not dependent on whether there was a COVID-19 outbreak in the location you worked in.
To receive pandemic pay, you must have worked in both an eligible:
- role (i.e. be an eligible worker)
In order to receive the pandemic pay, eligible employees in eligible workplaces must have physically attended and worked at their workplace between April 24, 2020 and August 13, 2020. This includes non-management employees temporarily redeployed to perform eligible work in eligible workplaces. Work from home is not eligible.
Eligible employers should reach out to their respective ministry partners to determine eligibility of temporary pandemic pay for workers employed by a third-party agency.
Base salaries, benefits, pensions and taxes
The temporary hourly pandemic pay and lump sum payments:
- are non-pensionable earnings (with the exception of CPP contributions)
- are not part of an employee’s base salary
- have no impact on benefits paid by employers
- are expected to be subject to statutory withholdings and remittances or employer costs associated with Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI), Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums and Employer Health Tax (EHT) and income tax. The determination of income tax treatment, withholding and remittances, as well as treatment for CPP and EI is within the purview of the Canada Revenue Agency.
The temporary pandemic pay and lump sum payments do not automatically disqualify someone from being eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Applicants should contact the Government of Canada for information on eligibility for the federally run programs.
Hourly and pandemic lump sum payment is administered in accordance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the applicable collective agreement(s).
Vacation and leaves
Pandemic pay will not be provided for the time you were not in the workplace for any reason, including:
- any authorized paid leave, including sick leave
- time and benefits awarded under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997
Some unions will not be collecting union dues on the temporary pandemic pay.
Consult with your workplace bargaining agent to discuss their particular arrangements.
Unless you receive specific direction from your union, you must continue to pay any union dues required by your collective agreement.