COVID-19 Questions & Answers

Self-Isolation

Definition: Action to remove oneself from public activity for a defined period of time.

What does it mean to self-isolate?

  • Self-isolation means staying at home when you are sick with COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has contracted the disease
  • Avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and community.
  • This is critical to “bend the curve” of disease spread.
  • Self-isolation also applies to anyone returning from travel outside of Canada whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.

Mandatory Quarantine/Isolation

Definition: An order to remove oneself from any contact with others with possible legal consequences if that order is violated.

How will I know if a worker is placed on mandatory quarantine/isolation?

  • The employee should notify CLTO if the employee tests positive for COVID-19 and has been at work in the previous 14 days. Public Health authorities will notify CLTO.

Can an employer require an employee to advise if s/he has been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or traveled recently to an affected area or outside of Canada?

  • Yes.
  • CLTO has implemented both active and passive screening protocols based on advice from Public Health agencies.
  • As part of the screening protocol, we ask that employees disclose if they have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Similarly, an employee is required to disclose recent travel history.
  • Canada Border Security Agency officers are screening people upon return to Canada at international airports.

My employee just called to say s/he has been traveling and can’t return to work. What’s next?

  • Employees who have traveled outside of Canada are asked to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days. You should tell them to follow this instruction and notify your supervisor, manager or director.

What if an employee shows up to work sick?

  • Employees who have flu-like symptoms or other signs of acute/severe respiratory illness, which include difficulty breathing, new cough or fever, should be sent home.
  • Refer the employee to the Ministry of Health’s online self-assessment to help determine if s/he needs to seek care

I’m not feeling well, what do I do?

  • Stay home and self-isolate. If you are experiencing symptoms, including fever, new cough, difficulty breathing and other flu-like symptoms you should:
  • Self-monitor and inform your supervisor/manager.
  • Consult your primary health professional, local public health authority, or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000).
  • The Ministry of Health online self-assessment can be completed to determine whether testing for COVID-19 is recommended. 
  • If an employee is ill and not presumed to be at risk for COVID-19, they should refrain from going to work for a minimum of 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped. Acute respiratory illnesses and Influenza can circulate at any time during the year and these infectious diseases may also put individuals at CLTO at risk.

Can CLTO require an employee to advise if s/he has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

  • No.
  • Human rights case law has generally held an employer is not entitled to ask for an employee’s diagnosis.
  • In the present circumstances it may be reasonable to ask the employee to disclose a diagnosis of COVID-19 due to the risk of transmission.
  • We will find out if an employee has tested positive because public health authorities will be notified of all individuals tested and the results. Public Health investigates such cases and will notify the employer if the employee has had contact with the workplace in the 14-days prior to diagnosis.
  • The employer is not permitted to ask an employee the results of the test, only if s/he is capable and fit to return to work. In the circumstance of a positive result, the employee would be placed on mandatory quarantine by public health authorities.

Compensation for time off due to COVID-19 

Continuation of an employee’s pay if s/he must be away from the workplace due to COVD-19 due to public health-imposed requirements, a diagnosis of COVID-19, or because their place of work is closed. This category also includes leave to care for family who are impacted by COVID-19.

If an employee must be away from work due to quarantine for COVID-19, is the employer under a legal obligation to pay the employee while s/he is off work?

  • No.
  • There is no legal obligation to continue an employee’s pay if s/he is unable to attend work due to illness or quarantine, unless a workplace policy or collective agreement provides otherwise.
  • However, these are unique times and employment provisions are being reviewed by Federal/Provincial governments.
  • Depending on the circumstances, the employee may be able to access short-term disability benefits if available, or Employment Insurance.

If my employee is required to self-isolate for 14 days, will they be placed on a paid or unpaid leave?

  • The employee will be placed on a paid leave if the 14-day self-isolation relates to an employee being exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or to contracting COVID-19 him/herself, or to recent travel outside of Canada.
  • If an employee travels after Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 18:00 ET, as a result of the global travel advisory in effect s/he will be placed on unpaid leave upon their return, and asked to utilize leave credits and apply for benefit through Employment Insurance.
  • Refer to CLTO memo dated March 15, 2020 Travel and Self-Isolation.

If we are asking employees to not take a vacation, what happens if they reach their vacation maximum limit?

  • Employees will not lose their vacation accruals. The maximum vacation accrual policy will be on hold during this time.

If my employee can’t work due to illness related to COVID-19, will s/he be paid?

  • Given the current circumstances, CLTO will continue to pay an employee who is off work due to COVID-19 – be it related to symptoms of or a diagnosis of COVID-19 or if their workplace is closed. This policy will be reviewed after April 6, 2020.

How do I code the scheduling system with the paid and unpaid leaves?

  • 30 – LOA Unpaid Pandemic For Employees Planning to Travel Outside of Canada after Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 18:00, they are asked to self quarantine when they return. If the employee is a direct service worker and cannot work from home, the employee will be placed on an unpaid leave for the duration of the 14-day self-isolation period. The employee may use leave credits such as vacation, lieu time, float days should they have any during this period. There is an expectation the employee will return to work after the 14 days provided, they did not develop any symptoms.
  • In the rare event that any unpaid leave (that doesn’t fall under codes 98 and 99 below) is approved during this period, code 30 may also be used to record this time. These employees would not be eligible to use any leave credits.
  • 31 – Unpaid Sick Pandemic For Employees Planning to Travel Outside of Canada after Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 18:00 and if the employee has COVID-19 symptoms, the employee will be placed on an unpaid leave until such time as they are declared fit by public health to return to work. The employee may use leave credits such as vacation, lieu time, sick, float days should they have any during this period.
  • 98 – Paid Pandemic – Direct For Employees who did not Travel Outside of Canada after Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 18:00 and are off sick with COVID-19 Symptoms.
  • 99 – Paid Pandemic – Indirect (For Employees who did not Travel Outside of Canada after Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 18:00 and are fundamentally required to be on a leave as a result of the COVID-19 situation. For example, they travelled before March 17, 2020 and are in self isolation, they were in contact with someone diagnosed COVID-19 positive and in self isolation, or they are a primary caregiver who has exhausted all alternatives and unable to go to work, or if staff falls under tthis public health directive or Enhanced Measures to Protect Ontarians from COVID-19 .
  • 00 – Regular hours – Use this code if employees are self-isolating but working from home and when employees are reassigned to a different location.

What protected leave is available to an employee whose family member(s) is impacted by COVID-19?

  • Given the current circumstances, CLTO will continue to pay an employee who is off work due to COVID-19 – be it related to symptoms of or a diagnosis of COVID-19 or if their workplace is closed. This policy will be reviewed after April 6, 2020.
  • That said, if a member(s) of an employee’s family is diagnosed with COVID-19, s/he is entitled to a number of unpaid leave entitlements under the employment standards legislation. These leave entitlements vary between provinces/territories. In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) provides the following:
    • Family Medical Leave – up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for or support a family member suffering from a serious medical condition and who is at significant risk of death within 26 weeks
    • Family Caregiver Leave – up to eight weeks to care for or support a family member suffering from a serious illness
    • Critical Illness Leave – up to 37 weeks to care for or support a critically ill minor child, or 17 weeks to care for or support a critically ill adult family member
    • Sick Leave – up to three days in each calendar year due to employee illness, injury or medical emergency
    • Family Responsibility- up to three days in each calendar year due to the illness, injury, medical emergency or other urgent matter of a prescribed family member
    • Declared Emergency Leave – if an employee cannot perform their duties as a result of an emergency declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act or other similar legislation

Refusal / Reluctance to Work

An employee refusing or expressing reluctance to fulfil their work responsibilities due to concerns about COVID-19.

Can an employee refuse work due to a fear of contracting COVID-19?

  • Yes, in some circumstances. This is a very complex issue in our sector.
  • Employees supporting people with developmental disabilities have a limited right to refuse work where hazard is inherent in their work or where refusal of work would potentially endanger the life of another person.
  • Please refer to the CLTO Refusal to Work policy.

My employee doesn’t want to come to work because of fear of contracting COVID-19 using transit. What can I do?

  • Managers and supervisors can encourage their staff to use taxis or Uber as they feel necessary. Please change these expenses to product code 00119 (Pandemic Response and Planning). Use your discretion when authorizing these modes of travel.

What if my employee expresses a concern about coming to work because of an underlying medical condition that puts them in a high-risk category?

  • The Public Health Agency of Canada suggests there is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians who are over the age 65, with compromised immune systems and who have underlying medical conditions. All employees should be aware of the preventative and protective measures implemented across CLTO, including the screening protocols in place, to ensure such risk is being mitigated. CLTO is following the recommended infection, prevention and control measures provided by experts including the Infection Prevention and Control Committee of Canada (IPAC), the World Health Organization, local and provincial public health agencies.

Other Return to Work Scenarios

I am not COVID-19 positive but I was having symptoms and stayed home. I’m feeling better, can I come to work?

  • Your employee can return to work if s/he is free from symptoms for at least 24 hours and has not been advised by Public Health or their primary health care professional to stay away from the workplace.

 I was diagnosed with COVID-19 but I’m feeling better, can I come to work?

  • Not until you are no longer a risk, as determined by Pubic Health guidelines. Employees are asked to follow Public Health guidance regarding when they can resume normal work activities.

I was off for an illness unrelated to COVID-19, can I come to work?

  • Yes.
  • Provided the employee is symptom free for 24 hours and, in the event of travel outside of Canada, completes the 14-day self-isolation period.

Do I as a supervisor or manager need to complete paperwork for a person on leave?

  • Yes.
  • Employees who are not at their workplace and not working from home will need to have their attendance noted on DYAD, and prompt completion of EAF’s are required to initiate an ROE. Use a Pandemic Plan reason code.

Mandatory Training

Do employees still have to attend in-class mandatory training?

  • No.
  • In-class mandatory training is postponed until further notice.
  • Employees whose in-class mandatory training has expired will not be placed on a leave of absence at this time.
  • However, employees are expected to keep up to date with online mandatory training.

Supporting Persons in Service and Programs

My staff has informed me that a person in service is ill. Now what?

  •  Advise employees to follow usual protocols.
  • Provide them with protective equipment.
  • Provide guidelines regarding employees’ responsibility to separate the person from others in service and to seek medical attention through primary care professionals, Toronto Public Health, or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) on next steps.
  • Update your teams and Regional Director regarding any advice from medical professionals.
  • Remind them that individuals experiencing symptoms should not attend day programs in the community.

Should individuals be going home to families for visits during this time?

  • Managers and supervisors should use their judgement but err on the side of limiting access in and out of group homes.
  • Before making a decision check/be familiar with public health resources, direction and guidelines.

SOR report to the Ministry

  • An SOR is required if someone in our care has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Follow the normal process for serious occurrence reporting.

Insurance Policy Coverage

Manulife – 7 days

  • We are currently reviewing the Manulife policy as it relates to COVID-19 and will advise.

WSIB

  • To obtain WSIB benefits, an employee must follow usual reporting obligations and provide medical documentation as a result of a work-related exposure.
  • If an employee is entitled to benefits, s/he may be eligible for wage loss benefits which includes any period in quarantine pre-diagnosis, healthcare benefits, and permanent impairment benefits as a consequence of the disease.

Meetings

Should employee meetings still be held?

  • In-person meetings should be limited as much as possible.
  • If needed, a one to two metre distance should be maintained between attendees.
  • Meetings should be held virtually via Teams audio or video conference link.