What can I do to protect myself if I am unable to work from home?
The public health guidance is to work from home wherever possible. However working remotely is not feasible in many workplaces. If you are in this situation, it is important that you follow all health and safety protocols related to your workplace. Under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, most of Ontario’s workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you are in a unionized workplace, consult your staff rep before refusing any work. It is also recommended that you practice social distancing and proper hygiene as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection.
Is there any financial help available?
The federal government will provide a taxable benefit (the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB) of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.
There are two ways to apply:
- Over the phone with an automated phone service:
1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041
Both of these services are available 21 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both services are closed from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. (Eastern time) for maintenance.
What about EI?
If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, whether or not are eligible for Employment Insurance. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
If you applied for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Do I need to provide a doctor’s note to my employer to get my sick-leave benefits?
While a medical certificate signed by your doctor is usually required to get sick-leave benefits, this will not be the case during the COVID-19 crisis. During this time, the government is waiving the need for a sick note for patients who are required to miss work due to self-isolation or quarantine.
Will my time off during self-isolation or quarantine be paid by my employer?
If your work can be done remotely for the period of self-isolation or quarantine where you are not sick, your employer should allow remote work paid at your usual rate of compensation. If you become sick, your sick day entitlements will vary depending on the language in your contract or collective agreement. If you have zero sick leave benefits—the Employment Standards Act applies, which is currently three unpaid days.
The provincial government has passed emergency legislation to provide infectious disease emergency leave for anyone unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes provides unpaid leave and job protection for individuals under quarantine or in isolation, or providing care to a child as a result of school and day care closures. More details here.