An update that applies to non-unionized provincially regulated employers in Ontario.
The IDEL has been extended once again. This does provide some protection for employers that have had to remain closed or have extended lay-offs.
This piece from Williams HR Law provides more info
On December 17, 2020, the Ontario government announced that it will extend the current temporary rules relating to layoffs until July 3, 2021. This is a major development that will give many Ontario employers struggling to recover from the business impact of COVID-19 more time before recalling their employees to work.
As many employers know and as addressed in our blog, in late May the provincial government temporarily changed the rules relating to temporary layoffs under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). Generally, the ESA provides that employees can be temporarily laid off for up to 13 weeks in a 20-week period or 35 weeks in a 52-week period, depending on the circumstances, after which time their employment is deemed to be terminated if the layoff continues. However, the government effectively “paused” layoffs when it enacted the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave regulation (the “Regulation”) in late May. This new change will extend this “pause” until July 3, 2021.
The Regulation temporarily deems employees who had been laid off to instead be on a statutory Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“IDEL”), rather than on layoff. This means that during the period when the Regulation is in effect, legally, employees who had been laid off since March are no longer considered to be on a temporary layoff under the ESA, and the usual rules pertaining to the duration of layoffs temporarily do not apply.
The temporary rules discussed above were scheduled to end on January 2, 2021, after which the usual rules related to layoff durations were scheduled to come into effect. However, if the government amends the Regulation as it has announced that it will, then the temporary rules will be extended until July 3, 2021.
For more information on what the planned extension would mean for employers, please read our blog regarding the previous extension of the temporary rules.
More clarification on covering employee expenses while working from home. Click on the title in the post at the bottom of this page to see the full article.
Who is eligible to deduct home office expenses?
An employee can deduct home office expenses if he or she is required to maintain a home office that was not reimbursed under an employment contract, and the home office must meet either of the following conditions:
- It must be the employee’s principle place of employment, or
- The space must be used by the employee exclusively for the purpose of earning income from employment and used on a regular and continuous basis for meeting customers or other persons in the ordinary course of performing the employment duties.
To deduct home office expenses, an employee would generally need
- a formal work-from-home written agreement under the employment contract, and
- Form 2200 – Declaration of Conditions of Employment, signed and prepared by the employer.
There are a lot of questions on the COVID vaccine from both employer and employees. Although this publication is UK based, I found their Q&A quite good.
The first takeaway…
How effective is the vaccine?
About 95 per cent. The phase 3 trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine involved 42,000 people, about half of whom got the experimental vaccine and the rest a placebo. In total, 170 people fell ill with covid-19. Only eight of them were in the vaccine group; 162 had received the placebo. So around 5 per cent of cases were in the vaccine group, which is where the 95 per cent figure comes from. That is a very healthy number: the World Health Organization (WHO) has said it would be happy with 50 per cent.
As a note, the influenza vaccine in Canada is about 58% effect
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Each year the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) sets their dental fee guide for the coming year. This guide is used by many dentists to set their prices (though they can charge above or below this). Insurers tend to use these numbers as the “reasonable & customary” limitation for claims.
Last year the Ontario average increase was 1.27% and this year the increase has jumped 4.6% higher. The average over that the past decade has been about 2.2% per year, so this is much higher than normal increase and is in good part due to COVID expenses.
What this means to employers is that if your employees submitted the exact same claims this year, as they did last year, then the cost charged in 2021 would be 4.6% higher. In reality, there are also trend and utilization numbers that are added (because we don’t really do the same thing every year, we tend to do more, and higher cost treatments), so the end result is even higher.
Depending on your renewal date, many clients may not see this affect rates until much later in the year (or even next year) and depending on the utilization of dental services, we may see the cost of claims rise, while the number decreases. That could result in premium costs staying stable. Time will tell.
As you may know, I have written a book called SELLING BENEFITS about building and growing business relationships (with a bit of benefits and sailing thrown in). It is now available through most on-line retailers. Links are at http://www.sellingbenefits.ca/
In support of that, I will be holding a COVID-safe, drive thru, book signing THIS Friday December the 11th from 10 to 11:30 am and 2:00 to 2:30pm at 10 Linton Crt, Thornhill/Markham, ON
If you’re in the area (or looking for an excuse to get out), drive up, buy your copy(s), get them signed and go. Books are $30 each, but discounts are available for larger orders.
Just a quick note in case you missed it. CRA is allowing your employees working from home to write off some of the expenses without having to do T-2200’s
Employees working from home with “modest expenses” will be able to claim up to $400 in the 2020 tax year without the need to track detailed expenses. And employers will, generally, no longer be required to confirm the status of employees by completing a T2200 form for each remote worker.
Each year we make a donation to a charity to say thanks and help out worthy organizations. For many years it was Yonge Street Mission, then BroadReach Foundation and now we’ve donated to Hands Across The Nation (HATN) for the past couple years.
We chose HATN as they are managed entirety by a small team of devoted volunteers. Their commitment ensures the lion’s share of donations goes directly to projects while having very low operating costs (than 10% of total expenditures).
This year we are trying to make a bigger difference by matching any donations that are made by our partners and friends up to a maximum of $5,000 total. On top of that, HATN has a donor that will then match those donations. This means a $250 donation is matched twice over, so $1,000 goes to the charity. That’s pretty cool.
If you know someone that might be interested in donating, the site is https://www.hatn.org/donate/ (Don’t forget to drop us a note after the donation, so we know how much to match.)
Joanne travelled to The Gambia in January/February with HATN to help build a market garden, distribute health care and oversee a well being drilled for drinking water and irrigation.
I’ll hopefully be joining the next trip, to Mali, once COVID is over.