Do Employee Benefits Continue During Pandemic Layoff?

I have been seeing comments and questions from employers who are facing the cancellation of benefits from the provider, on the grounds that the employees are “laid off” and no longer eligible for benefits (due to 13 weeks of layoff).

The Ontario Government announced in late May that the “Infectious Disease Emergencies Leave” had been implemented. Under the IDEL, all workers covered under the Employment Standards Act (but not those covered by a union) are considered to be on a protected leave, and not laid off, retroactive to March 1, 2020. Absences from work are eligible for coverage under this leave retroactive to January 25, 2020.

This means that any employee who has had their job or hours of work impacted by COVID related restrictions, either personal health or declared emergency, cannot be terminated or lose their benefits, it is the same as someone who is on a parental leave.

The only exception is in a co-pay situation where employees pay a portion of the premiums, in which case they have to maintain their payment in order to remain on the plan. The premiums can be deducted from any monies owed from the employer such as CEWS payments. If the employee is on CERB, they must make arrangements with the employer to cover the payment in another way.

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