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Who Qualifies For The COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit?

The Ontario Government introduced the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit (WIPB) on April 29th, 2021. They added to the Employment Standards Act thanks to power given by the Putting Workers First Act, to make this up to $200 per day payment possible. Now, if employees qualify, employers must provide their workers with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave if the leave is related to COVID. This worker income protection is in addition to employee unpaid infectious disease emergency leave and can be reimbursed to the employer via the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Can I get Worker Income Protection Benefit when getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, if you are requiring time off work for something related to COVID-19 like getting the vaccine, or needing a day off to recover from the vaccine, you can get 1-3 paid days off if you qualify.

Here are some more situations where you can benefit from Ontario’s new employee income protection:

  • Attending a COVID-19 test
  • Isolating while awaiting test results
  • Having a confirmed COVID-19 case
  • Receiving mental health treatment related to COVID-19
  • Receiving the COVID-19 vaccination
  • Recovering from receiving the vaccine
  • Been told to self-isolate by an authority
  • You are providing care to relatives who are sick with COVID or who are self-isolating
Who Qualifies For the COVID-19 Worker Benefit?

If an employee is entitled to take paid leave under an employment contract where the employee would also be able to take leave under this new sick leave provision, the employee’s entitlement is reduced by the employee’s entitlement under their employment contract. That applies only if the employer is obligated by contract to pay the employee for paid leave for equal to or greater than the amount that they would get with the new COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit. Employees can get paid and unpaid days off, but are entitled to take paid days first.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The Government of Canada currently offers the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit/CRSB which provides federal income support benefits to employees who are not working due to COVID reasons. It is available until September 25th, 2021. The right to take time off work under the Employment Standards Act is not the same right as the tight to the payment of employment insurance benefits or deferral government supports. An employee may be entitled to leave under the ESA whether or not they have applied for or qualify for federal benefits or supports.

What happens when an employee takes leave?

If an employee takes paid leave, the employer will pay the employee the lesser of $200 and either the wages the employee would have earned that day if they were working or the employee performance-related wages including commissions or a piece work rate that they would have received. The greater of the employee’s hourly rate, if any, and the minimum wage that would have applied to the employee for the number of hours the employee would have worked had they not taken leave is considered. If your leave will be a higher amount than your wages and if there is overtime, a shift premium or both would be payable by the employer. 

How do Employers get reimbursed for COVID-19 Workers Benefit? 

An employer may apply to the Workplace Insurance Board to be reimbursed for payments made to an employee for paid leave. An employer may apply for up to $200 per employee per day. Just because our article is not legal advice, please check with WSIB if you have any questions in case your situation is different. If you need more information about the reimbursement of certain payments or to see if you qualify, please see Bill 284 or call the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Center at 1-888-999-2248/1-866-567-8893.

Will COVID Leave Affect Eligibility For CRSB or Other Benefits?

Receiving the paid infectious disease emergency leave may affect an employee’s eligibility for or the number of benefits under other programs. To avoid that, employees may choose not to receive the infectious disease emergency leave pay that they are entitled to. Whatever they decide, employees just need to let their employer know by writing and just say that they are taking the time as unpaid time. That must be done before the end of their pay period when the leave would occur. The CRSB gives income support as well to those who are employed or self-employed unable to work at least 50% of their scheduled workweek because they are sick with COVID, need to self-isolate or have an underlying risk of getting COVID-19. If someone is already receiving the following, they are not eligible for CRSB:

  • CRB Canada Recovery Benefit
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
  • Short-term disability benefits
  • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits
How long can you receive disease emergency leave?

There is no specified limit to the number of days that an employee can take for infectious disease emergency leave. Employees have the right to be away from work. Just as long as the event that triggered them to go on leave lasts, that’s how long they are entitled to the leave. After the thing that caused them to go on leave ends, their normal obligations at work continue. Employees can take leave in part days, full days, or periods of more than one day. Before starting leave, advance notice must be given before starting the leave-in written or oral format. But, even though an employee is required to give notice, the employee doesn’t lose their right to take the leave if they do not. And if the employee is deemed to be on infectious disease emergency leave as a result of Ontario regulation 228/20 is not required to advise their employer of the deemed leave. They are just considered to be on leave.

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