In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government made a regulation that changed certain Employment Standards Act (ESA) rules during the “COVID-19 period.” This regulation has been amended to extend the COVID-19 period to January 1, 2022.
During the COVID-19 period (March 1, 2020 to January 1, 2022):
- A non-unionized employee whose employer has temporarily reduced or temporarily eliminated their hours of work for reasons related to COVID-19 is deemed to be on a job-protected infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA.
- A non-unionized employee is not considered to be laid off under the ESA if their employer temporarily reduces or temporarily eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19.
- A non-unionized employee is not considered to be constructively dismissed under the ESA if their employer temporarily reduces or temporarily eliminates their hours of work or wages for reasons related to COVID-19.
Beginning on January 2, 2022:
- Non-unionized employees will no longer be deemed to be on infectious disease emergency leave.
- The ESA’s regular rules around constructive dismissal will resume. This means a significant reduction or elimination of an employee’s hours of work or wages may be considered a constructive dismissal, even if it was done for reasons related to COVID-19.
- The ESA’s regular rules around temporary layoff will also resume. For practical purposes, a non-unionized employee’s temporary layoff clock resets on January 2, 2022.
For more information about employers’ responsibilities and job protections available to employees, visit Ontario.ca/COVID. You can also:
- Visit Your guide to the Employment Standards Act at Ontario.ca/ESAguide
- Call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551 or TTY (for hearing impaired) at 1-866-567-8893. Information is available in many languages.
- Get advice from a lawyer.