There are some important updates that members should be aware of with respect to the COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Program (paid sick days). The full website can be found here with all relevant detail. New and important details are noted below.
WSIB Claim for Reimbursement Portal
Members can find the portal here for submitting a claim for reimbursement. A reminder that employers are entitled to be reimbursed the amount of infectious disease emergency leave pay that they paid to their employees, up to $200 per employee per day taken, with a maximum of 3 days per employee.
Check the status of your claim
Once you submit your claim you will receive a claim confirmation number. You can check your claim status with the WSIB for an up-to-date view on the progress of your claim.
Payments are scheduled to begin by the end of June and happen on a bi-weekly basis thereafter. It is expected that it will take approximately two weeks to process an approved claim. The timing of payment depends on the completeness and complexity of the claim.
Paid leave under existing contract
Employees who have rights to paid leave under their employment contract (which includes a collective agreement) may not be eligible for paid infectious disease emergency leave or may be entitled to fewer than three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
For an employee’s three-days of ESA paid leave to be reduced, all four of the following criteria must be met.
On April 19, 2021:
- The employee had the right to a paid leave under their employment contract for one or more of the same reasons that paid infectious disease emergency leave can now be taken under the ESA.
- The employee had not already used up those days of paid leave under their employment contract before April 19, 2021 and those days were still remaining.
- The employee’s employment contract provided pay for the leave that is at least as much pay as the employee would be entitled to receive for paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA.
- The employee’s employment contract did not contain conditions for taking the leave that are more restrictive than what is set out in the ESA for taking paid infectious disease emergency leave.
Where all four of these criteria are met, the employee’s three-day entitlement to paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA is reduced by the number of days available under their employment contract that meet the four criteria.
Employee opt-out of paid leave
Receiving paid infectious disease emergency leave may affect an employee’s eligibility for, or amount of, benefits under other programs. To avoid this outcome, employees may choose not to receive the infectious disease emergency leave pay they are entitled to. To do this, employees must advise their employer in writing of their decision to take the time as unpaid infectious disease emergency leave.
This written notice of their decision must be made before the end of the pay period in which the leave occurs.
Proof of entitlement to leave
Employers may require evidence reasonable in the circumstances at a time that is reasonable in the circumstances that the employee is entitled to the leave. What is considered reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all of the facts of the situation. However, employers cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a doctor or nurse as evidence.
If it is reasonable in the circumstances, evidence may take many forms, such as:
- a copy of the information issued to the public by a public health official advising of quarantine or isolation
- a copy of an order to isolate that was issued to the employee under s. 22 or s. 35 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act
- an email from a pharmacy or from a public health department indicating the employee’s appointment date and time to receive a COVID-19covid 19 vaccination.
Unpaid infectious disease emergency leave taken between April 19, 2021 and April 28, 2021
Although the ESA was amended on April 29, 2021, the entitlement to paid infectious disease emergency leave is deemed to have started on April 19, 2021. Eligible employees who took an unpaid infectious disease emergency leave between April 19, 2021 and April 28, 2021, for a reason for which they can take paid leave, can choose to take those days as paid leave instead. To make this decision, employees must have advised their employer in writing no later than May 12, 2021.
For specific-claim related inquiries once you have a claim confirmation number or technical issues with submitting a claim, please request support and a claims specialist will reach out to you.
For more general information on eligibility criteria, how to apply and program rules, please call the Ontario COVID-19covid 19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre 1-888-999-2248 ( TTY: 1-866-567-8893).