Where an employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to work, an employer must grant any applicable employment/labour legislation statutory leave (i.e., sick, illness or injury leave or personal leave) to the employee, in addition to meeting any sick or personal leave obligations outlined in employment agreements or collective agreements or workplace policy. Since this question was first answered, several jurisdiction have implemented unpaid leaves that provide time off due to COVID-19 or health emergency (see below for more on these leaves.)
If these leaves are usually paid because required by law or a greater benefit is provided, they just continue to be paid for COVID-19 related illnesses. However, if the leaves are unpaid (which most are under employment/labour standards legislation), employers have no obligation to make them paid leaves. Employees who are ill due to COVID-19 may be entitled to 15 weeks EI sickness benefits or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The government has waived the need for a medical certificate and the mandatory one-week EI waiting period for those who are ill from COVID-19.
For self-isolation, employers can require employees to work from home if feasible and appropriate cybersecurity/data breach protections and protocols and documentation of the arrangement is in place when allowing work from home,
If work from home is not feasible, employers must grant a paid or unpaid leave of absence to employees. Employers could require employees to use any personal days provided in employment/labour legislation or outlined in employment agreements or collective agreements or workplace policy. However, if the leaves are unpaid, employers have no obligation to make them paid leaves or to provide paid leave. Employers have no obligation to pay employees who cannot perform work as per their employment contract.
However, employees who are in quarantine due to COVID-19 may be entitled to 15 weeks EI sickness benefits or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The government has waived the mandatory one-week waiting period for those in quarantine or self-isolation. There is also no requirement for a doctor’s note under the circumstances.
See below for more on the CERB.
Employers should also be flexible and discuss other arrangements with employees such as using vacation days, overtime bank days when sick or self-isolating due to COVID-19. Also, keep in mind that certain employees cannot afford to be out of work with no pay and may not disclose the need for self-isolation or that they are ill; therefore, continuing paying these employees may be a best practice.
That said, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island and more jurisdictions have taken measures or are taking measures to help employers and employees because of illness and self-isolation due to COVID-19 (see the next questions below).