The Ontario government has amended Regulation 228/20 made under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) to extend the COVID-19 Period for Infectious Disease Emergency Leave from September 4, 2020 to January 2, 2021.

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave is an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence. The extension of the COVID-19 Period to January 2, 2021 means that non-unionized employees whose employer has temporarily reduced or eliminated their hours of work for reasons related to COVID-19 will continue to be deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. These employees will not be considered to be on temporary layoff or constructively dismissed under the ESA for the duration of the COVID-19 Period.

The Ontario government has also confirmed that Infectious Disease Emergency Leave continues to be available to employees of businesses that have fully re-opened where the employees cannot return to work due to the need to isolate or quarantine or to care for a loved one due to COVID-19. Notably, the Ontario government has stated that this extends to parents who decide not to send their children back to school due to concerns about COVID-19.

Effective January 3, 2021, the regular rules around constructive dismissal and temporary layoffs under the ESA will resume. The temporary layoff clock will reset on January 3, 2021.