Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit
Learn how employers were reimbursed for paid infectious disease emergency leave.
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Paid infectious disease emergency leave ended on March 31, 2023. Eligible employers were able to apply to be reimbursed for these payments through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee, or by July 29, 2023 (whichever was earlier).
The Worker Income Protection Benefit program is no longer accepting new applications. The program now only accepts resubmissions of claims with a valid prior claim ID that have been previously declined or where the claim was approved but could not be paid due to incorrect banking information.
For more information on the reimbursement process, please visit ontario-covid19-worker-income-protection-benefit.ca.
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 was in addition to employees’ rights to unpaid infectious disease emergency leave.
Paid infectious disease emergency leave was 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 were:
- sick with COVID‑19 or had 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 was getting vaccinated against COVID‑19 or was experiencing side effects from the vaccine
Employers were 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 Employment Standards Information Centre
Employer reimbursement for paid leave
Eligible employers were 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.
Eligible employers were able to apply to be reimbursed for these payments through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee, or by July 29, 2023 (whichever was earlier).
Employers could only claim reimbursement for individuals who were employees under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Learn more about who is an employee under the ESA.
Reimbursement was only for infectious disease emergency leave pay under the ESA. Employers were not entitled to be reimbursed for vacation pay although employees were entitled to vacation pay for the wages they earned while on the paid leave.
If an employee took only part of a day as paid infectious disease emergency leave, the employer could have counted — but did not have to count —it as a full day of leave.
Note: Employers could have only applied 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 could have only applied for reimbursement for three of those days.
Eligibility for reimbursement
An employer’s eligibility to be reimbursed for paying infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL) depended on what other rights their employee had.
Employers were eligible for reimbursement of paid infectious disease emergency leave taken by employees between April 19, 2021 and March 31, 2023 if they did not otherwise provide paid days for COVID-19 related reasons or if any one of the following applied:
1. Employee used some paid leave in their employment contract
An employer was 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 was entitled to depended on the number of days the employee had 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 was entitled to three days of paid leave under the ESA and the employer could have applied for reimbursement for those 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 had one remaining day under their employment contract and was therefore entitled to two days under the ESA and the employer could have applied for reimbursement for those 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 had no entitlement to paid IDEL under the ESA because they still had three days remaining under their employment contract, therefore the employer would not have been eligible for reimbursement.
2. Employment contract provided less pay than the ESA entitlement
An employer was 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 provided for $100 for the day. However, the wages they would have earned while on paid leave under the ESA were $150. In this scenario, the day of paid leave under the contract did not reduce the employee’s entitlement to days of paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA. If the employee took paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA, the employer could have applied for reimbursement of $150.
3. Contract was more restrictive than the ESA
An employer was eligible for reimbursement if the employment contract contained conditions for taking the leave that were more restrictive than what was set out in the ESA.
For example, an employee was sick with COVID-19 and their employment contract required a doctor’s note for paid sick days. Under the ESA, an employee was not required to provide a doctor’s note for paid infectious disease emergency leave (IDEL). If the employee took paid IDEL under the ESA, the employer would have been eligible for reimbursement.
Exclusion from reimbursement
An employer was not entitled to be reimbursed for payments made to an employee for paid infectious disease emergency leave under the 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 could not cancel their employee’s contractual entitlement to paid leave in order to take advantage of the COVID‑19 Worker Income Protection Benefit.
Check the status of your claim
Once you submitted your claim you should have received 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 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
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) used the information that employers provided 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 , please request support and a claims specialist will reach out to you.