There have been recent revisions to the Employment Standards Act in regard to Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, temporary layoffs, and constructive dismissal.

These changes are retroactive to March 1, 2020 and expire 6 weeks after the declared emergency ends.

Before & After

COVID-19 ESA Regulations

Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

Before

An employee that has been laid off due to COVID-related reasons, is deemed to be on a temporary layoff.

After

A non-unionized employee whose employer has temporarily reduced or eliminated their hours of work because of COVID-19 is deemed to be on a job-protected Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. This means that continuation of benefits (unless the employer was not making benefits contributions as of May 29, 2020), service length accrual, right to reinstatement, and protection against reprisal are applicable.

Partially Suspending Temporary Layoff Provisions

Before

If the temporary layoff lasts longer than 13 weeks (or 35 weeks when certain conditions are met), the employer is considered to have terminated the employee and the employee would be entitled to termination pay (and severance in some cases).

After

An employee is not considered to be laid off if their employer temporarily reduces or eliminates their hours of work for COVID-related reasons. Instead they are protected under the Infectious Diseases Emergency Leave and the ESA layoff time provisions are revoked. This postpones the obligation to provide termination pay (and severance in some cases).

Constructive Dismissals

Before

Constructive dismissal may occur when an employer makes a significant change to a fundamental term or condition of an employee’s employment without the employee’s consent.

After

If an employer temporarily reduces or eliminates an employee’s hours of work or wages due to COVID-related reasons, the employee is not considered to be constructively dismissed under the ESA. The Ministry of Labour will not file complaints that occurred during the COVID-19 Period for reasons related to COVID-19.

Human Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion

In the Workplace

During the last week of May and during the span of June, the world – particularly the U.S and Canada – united together to advocate and stand up against the acts of systemic racism. Discrimination is when an individual or group of individuals are treated unfairly due to their association to a group including race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability, etc.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the legislation that supports human rights, have long advocated for individuals who have faced discrimination in employment.

Companies should take the initiative to educate employees on the importance of human rights and equity in the workplace. A lot of the time, individuals hold biases that they are not even aware of – it essentially becomes a subconscious bias that individuals cannot help to avoid.

However, with the proper training and education, you can create a workplace that celebrates diversity and creates a culture of equity, fairness and overall satisfaction. Employers that are more accepting and open to diversity and inclusion have a significantly higher success rate compared to those that aren’t.

If you would like to have Human Rights & Diversity training conducted at your workplace, please do not hesitate to reach out to arrange a date and time.

Did You Know

The Benefits of Surveys for You and Your Employees

Surveys are a great way to get feedback from your employees. Asking the right questions and getting participation from your work force will give you an opportunity to see other people’s opinions and improve your processes.

About the writer: Christina Galeota, B.B.A (Hons.), CHRP Candidate

I am a Brock University graduate with a background in Business. I have always been an analytical individual and research is my specialty. My consistent learning attitude keeps me up-to-date with ongoing changes in the business and HR world, so sharing my knowledge not only benefits me, but you as well.

If you have not implemented HR processes in your company, please reach out to me at [email protected] and I will gladly give you some information on where to get started and how I can be a key player in the success of your business and people.