What is the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL)?
In response to COVID-19, the Ontario government introduced the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). Under IDEL, a non-unionized employee is deemed to be on IDEL if their employer has temporarily reduced, or eliminated their hours due to COVID-19. These employees are not considered to be laid off under the ESA if the employee is not performing the duties of their position because their hours or wages have been temporarily reduced or eliminated for reasons related in whole, or part to COVID-19. Further, under IDEL a temporary layoff does not constitute a constructive dismissal under the ESA. However, there is still uncertainty about whether a temporary layoff constitutes a constructive dismissal under common law and a recent Court of Appeal decision did not resolve this issue. While the IDEL regulation has been extended on numerous occasions it is set to end on July 30, 2022. Therefore, on July 31, 2022, the ESA’s rules around constructive dismissal and temporary layoff that were in place prior to IDEL will be re-instated.
How can Employers be proactive with IDEL coming to an end?
There are a number of proactive steps that employers can take with IDEL set to expire on July 30, 2022.
- Employers can conduct an audit and assessment of their current workforce to determine who is working, who remains on layoff, and if so, for how long? It is important to reach out to the individuals who are on layoff to determine their current situation. It is likely that many of these individuals may have secured alternate positions and by reaching out to these individuals you will be able to better plan your workforce with IDEL set to end.
- If any of these individuals will be recalled, it would be prudent to recall them in advance of the July 30, 2022 end date. It is important to note that when IDEL ends these individuals on layoff will revert back to being on temporary layoff under ESA Legislation, which means that severance and notice requirements will apply, where applicable. Lastly, for those individuals who will not be returning to your workplace, it is recommended that you seek legal advice on the most appropriate way to do so.
If you are seeking further guidance on this topic or have any questions regarding IDEL and its fast-approaching end date, please reach out to us for assistance at [email protected] or complete our contact form here.