SUDBURY -- Health Sciences North has reversed a decision not to pay employees required to self-isolate due to confirmed high-risk workplace exposure to COVID-19.

The decision comes on the heels of a petition calling for the change. But HSN maintains the discussions have been underway for some time as it continues to review and update policies and procedures based on current circumstances.

The man who started the petition said he's concerned about people he knows who work in the healthcare field.

"When I read an article that said that HSN wasn't going to pay nurses that were forced to self isolate because of exposure that they got at work, I found it was a social and moral responsibility of our society to make sure that healthcare professionals are looked after," said Dave DeLoye.

HSN confirms staff was told Tuesday they will now be paid when they have to self-isolate because they were exposed to COVID at work.

In a statement HSN said:

"When employees are required to self-isolate, they will be asked to work from home if possible. If not possible, they will be entitled to paid leave for their scheduled shifts. This paid leave may not be granted if the employee has not followed HSN health and safety protocols."

HSN also said related discussions have been going on for weeks and the decision is not in response to the petition.

DeLoye said he also wants the community and policymakers to acknowledge the hardships the pandemic has caused healthcare workers. After receiving much public praise when the pandemic began last year, he said things have changed.

"Here we are a year later into this pandemic and things really haven't improved all that much," said DeLoye.

Hospital officials confirm the practice will be applied retroactively to Jan. 12 and will continue as long as the applicable emergency orders are in effect.