When can I take a leave from work because of COVID-19?

CRSB or CRCB

You might be able to get the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) or Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) when you miss work because of COVID-19. These benefits give $500 a week. They are both available until at least May 7, 2022. You can learn more about them in these questions:

Or you might qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

Ontario has a leave called the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). IDEL lets you take up to 3 paid days off work because of COVID-19. You can also take unpaid leave after that if you need more time off. You can take as many unpaid days of leave as you need.

You can also choose to just take unpaid IDEL and save your paid days for another time you might need to take the leave.

If you chose to take only unpaid leave, you must tell your employer in writing during the pay period in which you are taking the unpaid leave. For example, if you're paid every week, you must tell them before the end of the week you're on leave. If you're paid monthly, you must tell them by the end of the month in which you're on leave.

Qualifying for IDEL

To qualify for this leave, one of the following must apply to you:

  • You're getting a COVID-19 vaccine or you're recovering from side effects caused by the vaccine.
  • You're being treated for COVID-19. For example, you're in the hospital.
  • You've been ordered to self-isolate because you have or might have COVID-19.
  • You've been ordered to self-isolate because you've been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • You're caring for a family member for reasons related to COVID-19.

You can also qualify for IDEL if:

  • You have to care for your child because of COVID-19. For example, their daycare might be closed or you can't send them to school because of COVID-19.
  • You're affected by a COVID-19 travel restriction.
  • Your employer has ordered you to stay home because you might spread COVID-19 at work.

Paid leave

The paid leave is available for up to 3 days at up to $200 a day. You could start getting it any time after April 18, 2021. It's available until at least July 31, 2022. The government might extend this end date if the COVID-19 situation doesn't improve.

Your employer pays you for these days. You don't apply to the government. All you need to do is tell your employer.

Your employer then applies for a refund from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

For more information, read Can I get paid sick days if I have COVID-19?

Unpaid leave

You can take as many unpaid days of leave as you need. You can even take unpaid leave for short periods of time. For example, you can help care for a family member one day a week because of COVID-19. But you can only take the leave for as long as you need it. Once you recover or you no longer have to care for your family member, you must return to work.

And you can take unpaid leave more than once. For example, if you took the leave once because you thought you had COVID-19, you can take it again for a different reason or for the same reason.

The government has not said when the unpaid leave will stop being available.

Taking the leave

To take the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL), you need to tell your employer about your situation. It's best to do this before you go on leave, if you can.

Your employer can ask for “reasonable” evidence. For example, they could ask for:

  • a copy of an order from public health saying you must self-isolate, if you got a copy of the order
  • a note from your child's daycare saying they're closed because of COVID-19

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

Other options

If you have vacation time, you may be able to use this before using the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. And you might be able to use paid sick days, if you have them, depending on your employer's sick leave policy.

If you have to stay home to care for your children or your parents, you might be able to ask your employer for based on the Human Rights Code. This could allow you to work from home or change your work schedule.

Even if these other options are available to you, you don't have to use them. You can choose to take the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave if you prefer.

Whatever option you choose, be sure to tell your employer as soon as possible.

Getting legal help

If you're having trouble getting time off work, you may want to get legal help.

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