Updated: March 31, 2020 at 1:30 pm

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 still having to work during COVID 19. Unsure whether you can stay at home without the risk of losing your job? Read on to learn more about your rights:


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.

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.  
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