This Version Posted: January 14, 2021
IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures.
Know your rights as an employee when it comes to health and safety during COVID-19.
All levels of governments are taking steps to support/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.
The Ontario government has also set out health and safety protections for workers during COVID-19. Some of the protections include:
- The Employment Standards Amendments Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 sets out:
- 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 25, 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. 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 can call Ontario’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Download and print resources below: