Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit
Learn how employers can be reimbursed for paid infectious disease emergency leave.
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Paid infectious disease emergency leave
On April 29, 2021, the Ontario Government amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave because of certain reasons related to COVID‑19. This entitlement is in addition to employees’ rights to unpaid infectious disease emergency leave.
Paid infectious disease emergency leave is available for certain reasons related to COVID‑19, including:
- going for a COVID‑19 test
- staying home awaiting the results of a COVID‑19 test
- being sick with COVID‑19
- getting individual medical treatment for mental health reasons related to COVID‑19
- going to get vaccinated
- experiencing a side effect from a COVID‑19 vaccination
- having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID‑19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other specified authority
- providing care or support to certain relatives for COVID‑19 related reasons, such as when they are:
- sick with COVID‑19 or have symptoms of COVID‑19
- self-isolating due to COVID‑19 on the advice of a medical practitioner or other specified authority
- providing care or support to their child who is getting vaccinated against COVID‑19 or is experiencing side effects from the vaccine
Employers are generally required to pay employees the wages they would have earned had they not taken the leave, up to $200 a day for up to three days.
For more information visit the infectious disease emergency leave chapter in Your Guide to the ESA or call the Ontario COVID‑19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre
Employer reimbursement for paid leave
Eligible employers are entitled to be reimbursed the amount of infectious disease emergency leave pay that they paid to their employees, up to $200 per employee per day taken.
Employers can only claim reimbursement for individuals who are employees under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Learn more about who is an employee under the ESA.
Reimbursement is only for infectious disease emergency leave pay under the ESA. Employers are not entitled to be reimbursed for vacation pay although employees are entitled to vacation pay for the wages they earn while on the paid leave.
If an employee takes only part of a day as paid infectious disease emergency leave, the employer can – but does not have to - count it as a full day of leave.
Note: Employers can only apply to be reimbursed for a maximum of three calendar days, even if they chose not to count part days as full days of paid leave. For example, if an employee took a half day of paid leave on a Monday, two full days of paid leave on the Tuesday and Wednesday and an additional half day on the Thursday, the employer can only apply for reimbursement for three of these days.
Eligibility for reimbursement
An employer’s eligibility to be reimbursed for paying infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) depends on what other rights their employee has.
As of April 19, 2021, employers are eligible for reimbursement of paid infectious disease emergency leave if they did not otherwise provide paid days under an employment contract that could be used for COVID-19 related reasons for which paid IDEL is available or any one of the following apply:
1. Employee used some paid leave in their employment contract
An employer is eligible for reimbursement if the employee used some of their paid leave under their employment contract before April 19, 2021 so that they didn’t have at least three days of paid leave remaining. In this situation, the amount of reimbursement an employer would be entitled to depends on the number of days the employee has remaining under the employment contract.
- If an employee had three days of paid leave under an employment contract and used all three before April 19, 2021, the employee would be entitled to three days of paid leave under the ESA and the employer could apply for reimbursement for these three days.
- If an employee had three days of paid leave under an employment contract but only used two days before April 19, 2021, the employee would have one remaining day under their employment contract and would therefore be entitled to two days under the ESA and the employer could apply for reimbursement for these two days.
- If an employee had five days of paid leave under an employment contract but only used two before April 19, 2021, the employee would have no entitlement to paid IDEL under the ESA because they still have three days remaining under their employment contract, therefore the employer would not be eligible for reimbursement.
2. Employment contract provided less pay than the ESA entitlement
An employer is eligible for reimbursement if the employment contract provided less pay for the leave than the entitlement under the ESA (generally the wages the employees would have earned had they not taken the leave, up to $200).
For example, an employee’s paid leave under their employment contract provides for $100 for the day. However, the wages they would have earned while on paid leave under the ESA are $150. In this scenario, the day of paid leave under the contract does not reduce the employee’s entitlement to days of paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA. If the employee takes paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA, the employer can apply for reimbursement of $150.
3. Contract is more restrictive than the ESA
An employer is eligible for reimbursement if the employment contract contained conditions for taking the leave that are more restrictive than what is set out in the ESA.
For example, an employee is sick with COVID‑19 and their employment contract requires a doctor’s note for paid sick days. Under the ESA, an employee is not required to provide a doctor’s note for paid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL). If the employee takes paid IDEL under the ESA, the employer would be eligible for reimbursement.
Exclusion from reimbursement
An employer is not entitled to be reimbursed for payments made to an employee for paid infectious disease emergency leave under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) if either:
- the employee received WSIB benefits for the same days of leave
- the employer cancelled or rescinded the paid leave offered to their employees as part of an employment contract on, or after, April 19, 2021
In other words, an employer cannot cancel their employee’s contractual entitlement to paid leave in order to take advantage of the COVID‑19 Worker Income Protection Benefit.
Apply for reimbursement
Employers may now submit claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to get reimbursed for paying their employees the Ontario COVID‑19 Worker Income Protection Benefit.
Applications for reimbursement of paid infectious disease emergency leave must be made within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee, or by July 29, 2023 (whichever is earlier). The WSIB cannot process applications submitted after 120 days of the payment date.
Employers should ensure that their applications are complete and include all information required by the WSIB. The WSIB will not process incomplete applications.
Submit bulk applications
Employers can submit applications for up to 10 employees at a time using the regular process. We recommend using this process to submit applications for up to 50 employees.
If you need to submit applications for over 50 employees, you can register to submit a bulk application when you complete the intake form. After you register you will receive detailed instructions on how to provide the required information.
Check the status of your claim
Once you submit your claim you will receive a claim confirmation number. You can check your claim status with the WSIB for an up-to-date view on the progress of your claim.
Payments began at the end of June and happen on a bi-weekly basis. It takes approximately three weeks to process an approved claim. The timing depends on the completeness and complexity of the claim.
Verification and enforcement
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will use the information that employers provide in the application for reimbursement application verification and processing payments.
It is a contravention of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) to file a false or misleading application for reimbursement. Where the WSIB is of the opinion that false and misleading information has been filed in an application, the WSIB will disclose this information to the Director of Employment Standards for investigation and potential enforcement.
For specific-claim related inquiries once you have a claim confirmation number or technical issues with submitting a claim, please request support and a claims specialist will reach out to you.
For more general information on eligibility criteria, how to apply and program rules, please call the Ontario COVID‑19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre