The End of ‘COVID-19 Period’ and 3 More Government Updates Ontario Employers Need to Know Now

Employer Update

Below, find four upcoming and recent legal requirements for Ontario Employers, including reimbursing employees taking sick leave due to COVID-19 and minimum wage increases.

As a business owner, keeping up to date on developments in employment law can be challenging, especially with the rapid-fire changes that came down over the past year. 

Employers across Ontario must comply with a variety of legislation affecting their business and workplace relationships daily. While we have grown used to legislative changes with little to no notice, some upcoming and recent legal requirements for Ontario employers include:

  • End of “COVID-19 Period” and Lay-off Clock Resumption
  • Minimum wage increases
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Accessibility Compliance Report and Website Compliance

End of “COVID-19 Period” and Lay-off Clock Resumption

Ontario regulations define the “COVID-19 Period” as lasting from March 1, 2020, until September 25, 2021. 

Barring any further extensions, the end of the “COVID-19” period on September 25, 2021, means that layoff clocks for employees laid off during the period will start running on that date. Employers should be aware that any employees laid off during the period may be able to allege constructive dismissal depending on the contents of an employment agreement and other factors

Once the period expires, employers cannot rely on the regulation as an additional layer of protection from constructive dismissal claims. You can read more about the controversy over the impact of the regulations on the common law in our post here).

Layoff clocks will also resume on September 25, 2021. According to the Employment Standards Act 2000, an employee may be laid off for a maximum of 13 weeks or 35 weeks if the employer provides benefits or other substantial payments to the employee. 

If your business has employees who were laid off during the COVID-19 Period, and you want to know better how this legislation will affect your business, reach out to Bridge Legal & HR Solutions at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca or at 647-794-5442 with any questions.


Minimum Wage Increase

As of October 1, 2021, the Ontario minimum wage is going up for all types of workers as follows:

Wage Current Increasing to Per Day/Hour
General Minimum Wage $14.25 14.35 Hour
Student Minimum Wage $13.40 $13.50 Hour
Liquor Server Minimum Wage $12.35 $12.55 Hour
Homeworker Minimum Wage $15.70 $15.80 Hour
Hunting, fishing, and wilderness guides working less than 5 consecutive hours $71.15 $71.30 Day
Hunting, fishing, and wilderness guides working more than 5 consecutive hours $142.60 $143.55 Day

If your business is employing individuals at minimum wage, put this date in your calendar! 

Remember, unless exempt, you must pay all employees at least the minimum wage in Ontario, including employees working on a commission basis. 

Paid Sick Leave 

Between April 21, 2021, and September 25, 2021, barring any extensions, employees are entitled to three days of paid leave for circumstances related to COVID-19, including getting tested, vaccinated, and if they are ill due to COVID-19. This is in addition to other leave entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. 

Employers can apply to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for reimbursement of up to $200 per employee per paid sick day taken. If you do this, ensure they have the necessary details and apply for reimbursement within 120 days of the sick leave payment date. You can submit claims here.


Accessibility Compliance Report and Website Compliance

In case you missed it, employers with 20 or more employees were required to file their Accessibility Compliance Report under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act on June 30, 2021. 

This deadline has already been extended once. If you are late, it is better to file late than not at all. The form (Form 009-00237E) can be found here at the Ontario Central Forms Repository

In addition, as of January 1, 2021, employers with 50 or more employees were required to ensure that their publicly facing websites are compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA standard regarding accessibility. 

We wrote about this in our December 2020 blog post, which can be found here and includes additional links to information regarding WCAG 2.0 AA.

As a business owner, you have much on your plate. Trying to keep up with constantly changing legislation is just one more thing you don’t need to be added. Make it simple! Just follow Bridge Legal & HR on LinkedIn to hear about all upcoming employer legislation. 

Need more help than that? Contact us by phone (647) 794-5442 or at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca to see how we can help. 

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