Home Forums Answer for Organizational Policy Update Inquire

vickyp
Keymaster
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FOLLOW-UP: GLENN
While not necessarily disagreeing with the substance of my response, my payroll colleague Alan McEwen has a different take on your Q. I agree with what he’s proposing. So I guess consider this 2 answers for the price of 1. 
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RESPONSE FROM ALAN
Sorry, I wouldn’t have answered exactly this way. Under the existing ON ESA, the choice of whether or not benefits continue during legislated leaves lies wholly in the hands of the employee. Benefits must continue unless the employee provides written notice that both:

  • The employee doesn’t want the coverage; and
  • The employee won’t pay for any portion that was otherwise employee paid.

In practice this means where benefit costs are shared between employer and employee, the employer must continue paying the premiums unless the two conditions above are met. A lack of response from an employee, the absence of an agreement to pay these or the failure to actually pay them doesn’t change this liability.
You also have to consider the Human Rights aspect. If the employer wants to stop benefit coverage during legislated leaves, which mostly deal with protected Human Rights grounds, but not for voluntary leaves of absence, then that’s going to be a problem.
My own suggestion is that any employer policy related to benefit costs during legislated leaves deal with the two points above, rather than a blanket cessation of benefit coverage during legislated leaves.
And if the existing policy is to provide benefit coverage during legislated leaves, i.e. a greater benefit than the ESA requires, removing this might be considered constructive dismissal, especially for employees on an existing leave.
Let me know if you’d like to discuss.