Employees nowadays are worried about getting back to work, given the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic. They are afraid of catching the virus at the workplace and spreading it to their family and friends. Normally, your employer can expect you to come to work if your workplace remains open. It is simply not enough for you to say that you want to stay home because of the Covid-19.
Situations that You Can Stay Home Without Getting Terminated
If you do not have Covid-19 while your workplace remains open, your employer could terminate you for not coming to work. However, there are situations that you can stay home. You can ask for an unpaid leave of absence from work (“Infectious Disease Emergency Leave”). This will prevent you from being terminated if
- You are sick with Covid-19
- You are caring for a family member who has contracted the disease
- You have been ordered to quarantine or isolate
- You are in isolation, self-isolation or quarantine because of information or directions from a doctor or nurse, a public health official, Telehealth Ontario, a municipal council, the Ontario government, the Canadian government, or a board of health.
If You are at Extra Risk from Contracting Covid-19
If you have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes or chronic pulmonary disease, you are at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 if you return to your workplace. Under these circumstances, you have two options:
- You can either take the unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave; Or
- You can ask your employer for accommodation, such as working from home.
Taking the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave
If you are planning to take the infectious disease emergency leave, you should notify your employer of this as soon as possible. However, it is not necessary for you to give your employer a doctor’s note.
If you employer asks for reasonable proof, you can simply provide them with some details about why you need to leave. The leave is available until July 3, 2021 and there is no limit on the number of days that you can ask for this leave.
Asking for Accommodation
If you have a weakened immune system because of underlying medical conditions, there is a higher risk for you to contract Covid-19 at the workplace. If your employer still forces you to come to work in the office, this amounts to discrimination. According to Ontario Human Rights Code, employers cannot discriminate against employees on a number of enumerated grounds, including disability.
To avoid this situation from happening, the employer has a duty to offer different working conditions to accommodate you. This could include working from home or working at different hours. If you are thinking about asking for accommodation from your employer, it is always advisable to consult a lawyer and get more information first.
If you are experiencing employment law issues in connection to Covid-19, Toronto employment lawyer, Stacey ball can help you determine your legal options. Please call us at 416-921-7997, extension 227.