Can I get paid sick days if I have COVID-19?

Ontario has a new program for paid sick days called Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). This program allows employees to take up to 3 paid days off if they're sick with COVID-19. IDEL also allows employees to take as much unpaid leave as they need because of COVID-19.

IDEL is only for employees. If you're self-employed or an independent contractor, you don't qualify for IDEL. Instead, you can apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.

You might not be able to take paid IDEL if you already have paid sick days from your employer.

The most you can get paid while on IDEL is $200 a day. These paid sick days are available until July 31, 2022.

Reasons for taking the sick days

You can take these sick days if you have to miss work because:

  • you're getting a COVID-19 vaccine or you're recovering from side effects caused by the vaccine,
  • you have COVID-19,
  • you have to self-isolate or quarantine because you might have COVID-19, or

You can also take them if you have to care for a family member and one of the reasons above applies to them.

Or, if your employer has ordered you to stay home because you might spread COVID-19 at work.

What you need to do to take these days off

Your employer pays you for these sick days. You don't apply to the government for them. All you need to do is tell your employer. Your employer then applies for a refund from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

Your employer can ask for “reasonable” evidence, like a copy of your COVID-19 test or a quarantine order.

Your employer can ask you for a medical note, but they can't require one. You have the right to refuse to give a note.

If you need more time off

COVID-19 infections normally last for several weeks. If you need more than 3 days off, you can also use unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). For more information, read When can I take a leave from work because of COVID-19?

You can take the paid days off before you take the unpaid days off.

If you're taking the unpaid IDEL, you might qualify for income support from one of these two programs:

Getting help if your employer won’t pay

The Employment Standards Act says that your employer must pay you if you qualify for the paid IDEL. If they refuse to pay you, they might be breaking the law.

If this happens, you can file a complaint with the Ministry of Labour.

If you want help filing a claim or advice about your rights, talk to the Workers’ Action Centre or your local community legal clinic.

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