Sick time is a pain in employers’ necks, a thorn in managers’ sides, and a fly in the attendance management ointment at many workplaces. Managing employee sick time is arduous and time-consuming for many businesses, with many employers putting a significant amount of effort into tracking, monitoring, and reviewing employee sick time. Despite all of this effort, sick time can be confusing for some employers, especially when defining certain terms and entitlements and how they interact with legislated standards. One example of this frequently pops up when employers offer non-legislated sick time in addition to the legislated entitlement to personal emergency leave (PEL) guaranteed under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
Depending on how your organization sets up its policies or employment agreements, sick time and PEL may be different, non-overlapping types of entitlement. It is also possible, in some circumstances, for sick time and PEL to be considered overlapping entitlements, where a day of time off may be counted as both sick time and personal emergency leave. One of the key things to remember about PEL and sick time is that PEL is mandated under the ESA and has certain conditions attached to it by law, whereas there is no legislated requirement to provide sick time, and employers have significantly more flexibility if they choose to offer it.
An important change to PEL provisions in the ESA is that the first two days must now be paid, whereas previously the entire leave was unpaid. Additionally, employers in Ontario with fewer than 50 employees were previously exempt from PEL provisions but must now offer PEL to their employees. As a result of these changes to PEL under the ESA, it is a good idea for all Ontario employers to review their sick time policies and any agreements or clauses in employment contracts that provide for sick time to make adjustments to accommodate the new requirements.
Download our FREE Sick Days and PEL Guide to learn how you can create a sick time or PEL policy or contractual term to better reflect your employee’s entitlements provided by both the ESA and by your organization.
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