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

You might qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits while you're on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL).

All employees covered by Ontario's Employment Standards Act can take the province's Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). IDEL lets you take as many unpaid days of leave as you need.

Between April 19, 2021, and March 31, 2023, you could also take up to 3 paid days of leave.

IDEL is only for employees. If you're self-employed or an independent contractor, you don't qualify for IDEL.

Your employer can't fire you, threaten you, or do anything else to punish you because you choose to take the leave.

Qualifying for IDEL

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

You can also qualify if you have to care for a family member because of COVID-19. For example, you're taking your parent to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Amount of leave

You can take as many days of leave as you need. You can even take the 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 take the leave only 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.

You can take unpaid leave more than once. For example, you may have taken the leave once because you thought you had COVID-19. You can take it again for that reason or because you have to care for a family member who has COVID-19.

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

Taking the leave

It's your choice whether you want to take IDEL.

The law says that your employer can't fire you, threaten you, or do anything else to punish you because you choose to take the leave.

To take 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 them a note.

Other options

If you have vacation time, you may be able to use this before using the IDEL.

And you might be able to use paid sick days, if you have them. But this depends on your employer's sick leave policy.

If you have to stay home to care for your children or 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, so you won't have to take IDEL.

Even if you have the option to get accommodation, use paid sick days, or take vacation, it does not mean you have to use them. You can choose to take the IDEL if that’s what 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.

Hide this website