What is IDEL? And how does it affect hospitality workers?
Writer: Lisa Quigley
If you live in Ontario, you may have heard the term ‘IDEL’ tossed around in the news or in conversations about Covid and workplace sickness benefits. You may have even researched it yourself. But are you still confused? Don’t worry, you are not alone. We were too, which is why we took the time to speak with Fuad Aboulela, a licensed paralegal based in Toronto, Ontario to help understand what IDEL is all about, and specifically how it pertains to hospitality workers. All information below has been paraphrased from our conversations with Fuad.
IDEL stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. If you are placed on IDEL by your employer, this means that you are not laid off, but on a job-protected leave. Companies do this for their employees if they cannot function at their normal capacity. For example, a restaurant that can only function at 50% capacity may put some staff on IDEL. However, if the restaurant focuses mostly on takeout and therefore their operations are not hindered by the restrictions, they cannot lawfully put any of their employees on IDEL.
IDEL has been extended a few times now due to the continued lockdowns and restrictions in Ontario. Currently, the end date of IDEL is July 30, 2022. Starting then, employees can still be put on temporary layoff under regular provincial rules, which can only last for 13 weeks (without benefits) or 35 weeks (with benefits). This means that if you have not been brought back to work after 13 or 35 weeks (depending on your benefits) from the end of IDEL, then it is considered termination and the employee can pursue constructive or wrongful dismissal and termination pay.
If you have been placed on IDEL, or are unsure if you are, it is very important to get in touch with a licensed legal professional because this is where the rules get very murky. The outcome of a wrongful dismissal claim and amount of termination pay awarded can vary greatly depending on your contract and how clear and specific the terms actually are.
For hospitality workers, it is often the case that they do not have strong contracts, which actually works in the employee’s favour, not the employer.
It also depends on what is in writing by way of your IDEL placement, agreements to it and specifications of temporality of it.
From the words of Fuad, and the informed opinions of the team at Employment Paralegal:
Simply put, temporary layoffs are unlawful – even during a global pandemic. While IDEL has continuously been extended, employees who were placed on IDEL should consider their employment terminated and pursue their termination entitlements before their right to a claim expires (2 years from the date of lay-off).
There are a lot of employment legal professionals out there that offer free consultations. They can help evaluate your specific situation and assist in everything from how to communicate with your employer to how to proceed with your claim. It is important to reach out for professional advice because every person that has been placed on IDEL has very individual circumstances, and the claims and cases that can be made vary greatly.
These are unprecedented times that we are navigating, which makes it that much harder to do on your own. There are no previous cases to study for guidance. The very first cases of this kind due to Covid-19 are currently on trial, thus employment lawyers and workers alike are eagerly anticipating those verdicts to better predict the outcome of all the following trials, which is sure to be exhaustive in Ontario.
To read a personal piece on the precarious nature of restaurant work amidst the pandemic and how it affects mental health, click here.
To read more about how your work status and environment affects the 7 pillars of mental health, click here.
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ID: 4 text-based slides
- A blue background with white text and a white Not 9 to 5 logo in the top right corner. What is IDEl and how does it affect hospitality workers?
- A yellow background with black text and a white Not 9 to 5 logo in the top right corner. Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. If you are placed on IDEL by your employer, this means that you are not laid off, but on a job protected leave.
- A purple background with black text and a white Not 9 to 5 logo in the top right corner. Currently, the end date of IDEL is Jul 30, 2022. Starting then, employees can still be put on temporary layoff, which can only last for 13 weeks (without benefits) or 35 weeks (with benefits).
- A light pink background with navy blue text and a white Not 9 to 5 logo in the top right corner. It is important to reach out for professional advice, every person placed on IDEL has very individual circumstances.