Bill 195, Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2000 (“Bill 195”) came into force on July 24, 2020, bringing an end to the declared State of Emergency in Ontario.
Bill 195 will have an impact on certain provisions under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA“)
The Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”) – Bill 195 has no effect on an employee’s entitlement to an IDEL. Employees will continue to qualify for an IDEL for as long as COVID-19 remains a designated “infectious disease”.
On May 29, 2020, the province amended the ESA by deeming employees whose hours / wages were reduced or eliminated due to COVID-19 to be on IDEL. This temporary change resulted in employees’ temporary layoffs converting into IDEL for the duration of the “COVID-19 Period” (i.e. March 1, 2020 until 6 weeks after the end of the declared State of Emergency). Because of Bill 195, and the end of the declared State of Emergency, certain relief provisions introduced by O Regulation 228/20, Infectious Disease Emergency Leave will expire six (6) weeks after July 24, 2020 – that is, on September 4, 2020.
On September 4 2020, if employers don’t have the means to recall employees back to work or restore their wages the standard temporary layoff procedures will be re-engaged, meaning employers may be able to temporarily lay off employees for up to 13 weeks in a 20-week period, which can be extended up to 35 weeks in a 52-week period, if certain conditions, as defined by the ESA, are met.
Essentially, the first week of layoff would be the week after September 4, 2020. All preceding weeks that would otherwise have been “weeks laid-off” between March 1, 2020 and September 4, 2020 (i.e. the “COVID-19 Period”) did not count toward the temporary layoff calculation.
To put it bluntly “the COVID-19 Period” didn’t count.
As an employer, if you can’t bring your staff back on/by September 4, 2020, your laid-off staff transition to being temporarily laid-off. (Again).
With all this being said, the province or federal government may offer further relief to businesses that are incapable of recalling all staff.