“Deemed Infectious Disease Emergency Leave” (Deemed IDEL)

On December 17, 2020 the Ontario government extended the COVID-19 period until July 3, 2021 (the period had been scheduled to end on January 2). Clients who have employees who are deemed to be on IDEL may wish to extend insurance coverage for those employees, extending benefits that were in-force for those employees on May 29, 2020 until July 3, 2021.

As explained in the update below, Manulife’s standard contracts provide extensions of coverage for Leave of Absence, Temporary Lay-off, Indefinite Layoff or Mandated Leaves (except Maternity or Paternity Leaves) up to 120 days. (This is based on Manulife’s standard contract language, but the language in each specific contract will prevail.)

Clients with an existing Memorandum of Agreement for a Deemed IDEL extension

If a plan sponsor already has a Memorandum of Agreement for a Deemed IDEL extension for employees in Ontario and they want to extend benefits until July 3, 2021, we can accommodate the request. These sponsors should notify their Manulife representative and a new Memorandum of Agreement will be issued.

Clients without a Memorandum of Agreement for a Deemed IDEL extension

If there is no Memorandum of Agreement in place, we will continue to follow the contract. That means there is no coverage beyond the limitation identified in the contract (standard contract 120 days) from the date the plan member ceased to be actively at work on a full-time basis.

Clients who wish to create a Memorandum of Agreement for a Deemed IDEL extension

Requests to extend coverage require Underwriting approval. Underwriting will manage new requests very closely with a view to supporting plan sponsors wherever possible. Requests will be evaluated individually, with a focus on any disability risk. An approved request will result in a Memorandum of Agreement being issued.

For disability, we may apply a surcharge or decline in extreme situations.

We’re committed to working with our clients to extend coverage to plan members affected by the Deemed IDEL. Please contact your Manulife representative.


Ontario Update

On May 29th, 2020, the Ontario government announced changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). The regulation affects how the termination, severance and constructive dismissal rules under the ESA apply during the COVID-19 period. For more detailed information on the government changes, please visit https://www.labour.gov.on.ca.

Of note, under this new regulation, a non-unionized employee working in Ontario whose employer has temporarily reduced or eliminated their hours of work because of COVID-19 is deemed to be on a job-protected Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL), during the COVID-19 Period.

With this new regulation, employers may be looking to extending benefits coverage for employees on Deemed IDEL.

Manulife’s standard contracts provide extensions of coverage for Leave of Absence, Temporary Lay-off, Indefinite Layoff or Mandated Leaves (except Maternity or Paternity Leaves) up to 120 days. 

For employers who wish to extend coverage of benefits for employees in Ontario, beyond the leave provisions of their contracts, Manulife will permit on an extra-contractual basis the extension of benefits in-force on May 29th for employees who fall under the new regulation until July 3, 2021

Please reach out to your Manulife representative so they can assist you.

Do Manulife’s contracts allow for the Deemed IDEL extension?

Manulife’s standard contracts provide extensions of coverage for Leave of Absence, Temporary Lay-off, Indefinite Layoff or Mandated Leaves (except Maternity or Paternity Leaves) up to 120 days. 

This general summary is based on Manulife’s standard group benefits plan wording, but the wording in each specific contract will prevail.

Language in our standard contract that addresses ESA obligations include:

Due to Maternity or Parental or Other Mandated Leave of Absence

If an Employee ceases to be Actively at Work due to Maternity, Parental or other leave of absence that is mandated by legislation, all insurance coverage may continue for the period of leave to which the Employee is entitled by legislation governing the Employer.

Due to Other Leave of Absence or Temporary Lay-Off

If an Employee ceases to be Actively at Work due to a leave of absence other than Maternity or Parental leave, or due to Temporary Lay-off, all insurance coverage may continue until the Policyholder terminates it, but in no event for more than 120 days after the Employee was last Actively at Work.

Therefore, the Deemed IDEL would be a leave of absence mandated by legislation under our contract. However, as it is not Maternity or Parental leave, we are only bound to provide coverage for 120 days.

What is the significance of July 3, 2021?

The regulation states that the Deemed IDEL is in place during the COVID-19 Period and defines “COVID-19 Period” as March 1, 2020 to an end date that is 6 weeks after the day that the state of emergency is lifted. On December 17, 2020 the government further amended the Employment Standards Act to define the COVID-19 period as ending on July 3, 2021. Therefore, as of December 17, the COVID-19 period is due to end July 3, 2021.

If an employer needs the extension to July 3, 2021, Manulife may consider that need and may extend the benefit extra-contractually to that later date. Please contact your Manulife representative.

I am an employer with union and non-union employees in Ontario. Can I extend coverage of benefits for both groups?

While the regulation only applies to non-unionized employees, Manulife can support the extension of benefits to all Ontario employees if necessary.

How are benefits impacted?

Employers should consult their HR teams to determine how the new regulation impacts their employees. The regulation can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r20228.

Where an employer determines that its employees are deemed on IDEL and are not entitled to an extension of benefits because they were not in receipt of benefits on May 29th, Manulife will presume that employers will be exercising their rights under the regulations and not reinstating benefits. In such circumstances, we will waive the contractual requirement that the employee opt out of the benefits in writing.

What if an employee does not want to continue some or all benefits past May 29th?

Manulife won’t permit employees to pick and choose which benefits to continue. We will permit an extension of all benefits actively in effect for an employee as of May 29, 2020 until July 3, 2021. 

Please reach out to your Manulife representative to extend coverage.