COVID-19 – Workplaces
Last Reviewed/Updated: March 3, 2023
What to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19
If you think you may have COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus, follow these steps to take care of yourself and protect others.
The Local COVID-19 Risk Index is updated every Wednesday and will provide you with personal guidance based on local COVID-19 data.
On this page:
- Paid Sick Days
- COVID-19 and Workplace Health and Safety
- COVID-19 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Guide to Developing your COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan
1) Paid Sick Days
Paid sick days give employees the ability to take time off work when feeling unwell while still receiving pay. It provides numerous health and economic benefits to both the employee and employer. Currently the provincial government has a paid sick day’s program in which employees are entitled to three paid sick days for any reason related to COVID-19, including the need to self-isolate, get vaccinated, get tested, or take care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19. This program has been extended, but is set to end on March 31, 2023.
Resources and Further Reading:
A year of COVID-19 has illuminated the urgent need for paid sick days | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics (uoguelph.ca)
Benefits of Paid Sick Leave During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table (covid19-sciencetable.ca)
Ethics of Paid Sick Leave for the COVID-19 Pandemic » University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (utoronto.ca)
A Cross-Canada Overview of COVID Sick Leave Entitlements | Cassels.com
Paid sick days advocacy – Ontario Nonprofit Network (theonn.ca)
Why Are Paid Sick Days Important?
- Lowers workplace transmission of COVID-19, influenza, and other infectious diseases.
- With the guarantee that employees will still receive pay and no penalty to employment,paid sick days ensure individuals do not enter the workplace when feeling unwell. This allows time for self-isolation and employees are able to return to work when no longer contagious.
- Lowers household transmission of COVID-19, influenza, and other infectious diseases.
- As a result of a decrease in workplace transmission, employees will be less likely to bring a virus into their household. This risk of household (secondary) transmission is subsequently decreased.
- Increases uptake of COVID-19, influenza and other vaccinations.
- Juggling work schedules, family routine and other external factors with the designated vaccine clinic times can make it difficult for individuals to find the time for an appointment. Paid sick day programs ensure individuals are guaranteed paid time off to receive the vaccine. This increases the likelihood of individuals getting immunized and helps stop the spread of infectious diseases.
- Increases the mental health of workers.
- Paid sick days provide a sense of job security to employees and reduces strain placed on mental health. Individuals are able to focus on rest and recovery by calling in sick to work while not having to worry about losing pay or risking employment.
- Decreases risk of workplace injuries
- Research has shown that employees who attend work while sick are more likely to make mistakes and get injured at the workplace. Paid sick days alleviate this risk as individuals will remain at home while recovering from an illness.
- Reduction in presenteeism and absenteeism. (increased work productivity)
- Presenteeism can be explained as the lose of productivity that occurs when employees are not able to function at full capacity due to an illness, injury or other condition. By providing paid sick days, lost productivity will be reduced which ultimately saves money for the company. Research has shown that presenteeism has been estimated to cost national economies billions of dollars annually.
- Promotes healthy work environment.
- Paid sick days produce a healthy and appealing work environment, which reduces company turnover. Replacing workers can cost the company a great deal of money for advertising, interviewing and training new employees. Reducing the rate of turnover ultimately saves the company money.
- Decreases risk of workplace injuries.
- Research has shown that employees who attend work while sick are more likely to make mistakes and get injured at the workplace resulting in longer term leave. Paid sick days alleviate this risk and reduce costly workplace injuries.
2) COVID-19 and Workplace Health and Safety
Get information to help develop a plan to protect workers, customers and the public from COVID-19. Find posters, tools and guidance for Ontario workplaces.
3) COVID-19 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Learn about employers’ responsibilities and how you can protect your workers. Workers can get information about health and safety protections at the workplace.
4) Guide to Developing your COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan
Learn how you can create a plan to help protect your workers and others from novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).