The COVID-19 Period in Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave has been extended until September 25, 2021. Prior to this change, the COVID-19 Period was set to end on July 3, 2021.
What does the end of the COVID-19 Period mean?
The end of the COVID-19 Period is relevant to employers who reduced the hours of their employees due to COVID-19 reasons. In many cases, these employees were “laid off,” meaning they work no hours at all.
Typically, a layoff can only last for a specific number of weeks. The introduction of the “deemed IDEL” and the extension of the COVID-19 Period have made it possible for these employees to remain off work/laid off for much longer, without a termination being triggered.
If you were an employer keeping the July 3, 2021 end date in mind, you can forget that and add September 25, 2021 to your calendar.
What happens after September 25, 2021?
At the end of the COVID-19 Period, normal layoff rules (paused by the deemed IDEL) will return and regular timelines will apply.
If employers are unable to return employees to work after September 25, 2021, but do not wish to terminate their employees’ employment, they can continue to keep employees off work on a normal layoff. A normal layoff can last for 13 weeks or up to 35 weeks if benefits are continued.
Employers need to have the contractual right to lay their employees off otherwise they risk employees asserting a constructive dismissal. If an employee asserts a constructive dismissal, they are making the argument that they have been terminated and are entitled to their termination entitlements. You can read more about constructive dismissal and COVID-19 in another post here. We recommend that you seek advice as to the best way to avoid constructive dismissal claims during these uncertain times.