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Employment Standards and COVID-19

Our COVID-19 Inventory Tool on CLEO Connect provides an overview of key, up-to-date resources and supports available to your clients during the pandemic.​

On May 29, 2020, the provincial government made temporary changes to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) in response to COVID-19. The ESA outlines your rights at work. These new changes apply during the “COVID-19 period” which is from March 1, 2020 to September 25, 2021. These resources outline temporary changes to ESA rules under COVID-19.

CLEO’s Steps to Justice
Employment and Work during COVID-19: COVID-19

Ontario Ministry of Labour: Health and Safety
Guide to Employment Standards during COVID-19

Under Ontario law, employers have a duty to keep workers and workplaces safe and free of danger. If a worker feels unsafe, they may have the right to refuse unsafe work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). There are other reasons why workers can stay home during COVID-19 off, in some cases with benefits.

Ontario Ministry of Labour: Health and Safety
Right to refuse or to stop work where health and safety in danger

Ministry of Labour: Resources to prevent COVID-19 at work
Prevent COVID-19 at Work

The Ontario Human Rights Code prevents workplace discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of disability. This could happen, for example, if an employer makes someone with an auto-immune disorder work in a place that makes them extra vulnerable to COVID-19.

Human Rights Legal Support Centre
Human Rights and COVID-19

Human Rights Legal Support Centre: timelines and limitations extended during COVID-19
Human Rights Legal Support process information

Paid infectious disease emergency leave
On April 29, 2021, the Ontario government amended the Employment Standards Act to require employers to provide up to three days of “paid infectious disease emergency leave.” The COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit (WIPB) is a temporary program.

Workers' Action Centre
Temporary Paid Sick Days Factsheet (English and Bengali)

There are some situations where you may be able to take an unpaid leave of absence from work during COVID-19.

Ministry of Labour: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL)
Since March 1, 2020, Ontario has had the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. It allows workers who qualify to take unpaid time off because of COVID-19.  This includes those who are temporarily laid off during COVID-19.

Connecting Ottawa
Tip sheet on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) - updated June 14, 2021

Many people continue to work or are returning to work during COVID-19 and are facing new safety protocols in the workplace. 

CLEO’s Steps to Justice
What should I do if my work is not safe?

Workers' Health and Safety Legal Clinic
Guidance for Ontario workplaces and workers  

Ministry of Labour: Tip Sheet for Workplaces and Workers Rights during COVID-19
Guidance for Ontario workplaces and workers  

Ministry of Labour
If health and safety concerns are not resolved internally, a worker can seek enforcement by filing a complaint here: Emergency Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

Ministry of Labour: Health and Safety during COVID-19
COVID-19 (coronavirus) and workplace health and safety

Ministry of Health
COVID-19 health and safety protections for health care providers: COVID-19 Guidance for the Health Sector

Workers' Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
Workplace Safety and Insurance Benefits (WSIB) may be available to you in the event that you develop COVID-19 symptoms directly during the course of your job. WSIB website - English

Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic: COVID updates for injured workers
Injured Workers Online – Working Together for Justice

There are currently new rules during the COVID-19 period (March 1, 2020 - July 3, 2021) regarding temporary lay-offs and constructive dismissals. A constructive dismissal is where a worker quits as a result of a hostile work environment caused by the employer. Since it wasn’t voluntary, it is seen as a termination.

Ministry of Labour: temporary lay-off changes
Information about temporary layoff changes

Community Legal Clinics

Find your local Community Legal Clinic
Legal Clinics – Legal Aid Ontario

Workers’ Health and Safety Legal Clinic
Workers' Health and Safety Legal Clinic and Links to Health and Safety Resources

Human Rights Legal Support Centre
Contact Information

Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic
Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic (IWC) | CRWDP

The 519 Legal Clinic: The 519 Legal Clinic is for advice and referral purposes only. The clinic does not provide ongoing client relationships or legal representation. Serving the 2SLGBTQ community. 
The 519 Legal Clinic

Pro Bono Ontario Hotline
Free Legal Advice Hotline - Call Today!

CLEO’s Steps to Justice

CLEO’s Steps to Justice
Employment and Work during COVID-19: COVID-19

Phone Hotlines and Workers’ Centres

Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre (serving Northeastern Ontario)
The Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre

Migrant Workers Supports during COVID-19

Migrant Workers Rights Network – COVID-19 Supports
Im/Migrant COVID-19 Resource Links

Butterfly: Asian and Migrant Sex workers Network - COVID-19 supports
Sex Work and COVID-19