Your Rights at Work
We've had lots of questions about workers' rights during COVID-19 pandemic, and given the evolving situation I understand there’s a lot of concern. Workers and employers deserve clarity and consistency on this.
The Employment Standards Act was recently amended to include an unpaid, job-protected infectious disease emergency leave. This leave is available to employees who are not performing the duties of their position for certain reasons related to COVID-19, including:
- personal illness, quarantine or isolation in specified circumstances
- concern by the employer that the employee may expose other individuals in the workplace to COVID-19
- to provide care or support to certain family members for a reason related to COVID-19, including school or day care closures
- due to certain travel-related restrictions
In addition, Ontario declared an emergency due to COVID-19 on March 17, 2020. During a declared emergency, an employee may have the right to take an unpaid, job protected leave if the employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because of the emergency and because certain circumstances apply.
Employers cannot require employees to provide medical notes to prove they are eligible for the leave.
Please note that not all workers are covered under the Employment Standards Act. To find out if you are entitled to the protected unpaid leave in relation to COVID-19: call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416 326-7160 or 1 800 531-5551
If you have health and safety questions about your workplace: Talk to your union representative or call the Ministry's toll-free health and safety information line at 1-877-202-0008 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday for general inquiries about workplace health and safety.
Many folks in Davenport work in the construction sector, and right now I’m hearing a lot of concern about their safety on the job and questions about why these sites are still considered essential. The health and safety of workers and their families must take priority right now. Under the law, you have the right to refuse unsafe work, and workers in the construction sector should exercise that right if their worksite is not safe. Those workplaces should also be reported right away to the Ministry of Labour. The Premier has indicated that the essential services list is subject to change, so we will keep monitoring the situation and I will continue to put local concerns forward.