IDEL Protections Extended to January 2021

September 28, 2020

What is IDEL?

“IDEL” refers to the Ontario Government’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, which was added to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. IDEL serves as a job-protected leave under the ESA, which means that employees cannot be terminated, penalized or reprised against for requesting or taking an IDEL. Essentially, IDEL is an unpaid leave of absence.

Why does it matter?

Ontario’s Government passed this regulation to serve as a protection for employers dealing with economic hardship occasioned by the pandemic. For employees, however, this means those whose hours of work and/or wages have been eliminated or reduced, or who were temporary laid off for reasons related to COVID-19, would not be able to claim constructive dismissal; instead, they are deemed to be on IDEL. The deemed IDEL was originally set to expire six (6) weeks following the expiration of Ontario’s state of emergency. The state of emergency was lifted on July 24, 2020, which had many employment lawyers believing that IDEL was set to expire on September 4, 2020.

On September 3, 2020, the Ontario Government unexpectedly announced it is extending protection to prevent temporary layoffs from automatically becoming terminations. Ontario announced that it was “helping to protect jobs and businesses by extending protection to prevent temporary layoffs from automatically becoming permanent job losses”.

What is the impact on Employees/Employers?

For employees who continue to be laid off due to COVID-19 related circumstances, they will continue to be on a deemed IDEL until January 2, 2021. For employers who have sought protection under IDEL in laying off employees or reducing hours and/or wages, such employers may continue to do so, however, come January 3, 2021, the regular ESA rules and time limits regarding constructive dismissals and temporary layoffs will likely resume, subject to the province once again extending the regulation.

Should you have any questions regarding the above, or have a question related to a matter not contained within the subject of this article, please contact Carter Perks at c.perks@perkslawgroup.com or (905) 649-5306.

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