An employee is on unpaid leave to care for children due to school closures. Do we have to continue contributing to the employee’s pension plan?

Yes.  The government of Ontario recently amended the Employment Standards Act (2000) to include an unpaid, job-protected infectious disease emergency leave.  Employers are required to continue pension contributions during these emergency leaves.  The leave entitlements for COVID-19 are retroactive to January 25, 2020.

Employees can take infectious disease emergency leave if they will not be performing the duties of their position because of any of the following reasons:

  • The employee is under individual medical investigation, supervision or treatment;
  • The employee is subject to an order of a medical officer of health or a court under the HPPA;
  • The employee is in quarantine or isolation or subject to a control measure, including self-isolation that is undertaken because of information or directions issued by a public health official, qualified health practitioner, Telehealth Ontario, the government of Ontario or Canada, a municipal council or a board of health;
  • The employer directs the employee to stay at home because of concerns that the employee might expose others in the workplace to the designated infectious disease;
  • The employee is providing care to any of the specified individuals listed, including because of closures of schools and daycares;
  • The employee is directly affected by travel restrictions preventing the employee from returning to Ontario.