This Version Posted: June 26, 2020
Taking precautions like handwashing, coughing in your sleeve and practising physical distancing are essential during the current COVID-19 situation.
But even doing that can make you feel worried about your health and safety if you’re working during COVID 19. Read on to learn more about your rights during the pandemic:
All levels of governments are taking steps to support and protect people affected by coronavirus. The following resources can help you understand your rights. (Information is current at the time of this posting; please check official government websites for the most recent updates):
Ontario Human Rights Commission FAQs
Explains your rights during COVID-19 in series of questions and answers.
Recent changes by the Ontario government are also designed to protect worker’s health during COVID-19:
- The newly approved Employment Standards Amendments Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 includes:
- Job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, and to those who need to be away from work to care for children at home due to school/daycare closures
- Employees will not be required to provide a medical note.
- Measures are retroactive to January 25th, 2020.
- As well, in a declared emergency, employees have the right to take an unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to perform job duties due to an emergency or other circumstances. The Employment Standards Act Guide is being updated as more information becomes available.
- Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act workers also have the right to refuse unsafe work. Calls from workers have increased significantly due to COVID-19. Currently, there is no information as to how the Ministry of Labour is responding to these reports. Please review this information carefully about work refusals.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act also:
- Gives workers the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe to them or co-workers. Workers who feel they are endangered by workplace violence may also refuse work.
- Sets out a specific procedure that must be followed in any work refusal.
- If you have identified a health and safety issue at your workplace, contact your manager or supervisor, your Joint Health and Safety Committee representative, and/or your union representative.
For Additional Complaints/Concerns
- If you’re unable to resolve concerns, or want to report a workplace health and safety incident, critical injury, fatality, or work refusal, call the Health and Safety Contact Centre at the Ministry of Labour to report your issue. You can speak to a representative at 1-877-202-0008.
- For less urgent health and safety issues, file an online complaint now. The Health and Safety Contact Centre will review and respond in due course.
- If you’ve been fired or punished for exercising your rights under the Ontario Health and Safety act, you can file a reprisal complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
- Companies and workplaces that have questions about this closure order can call Ontario’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Download and print resources below: