I. COVID-19 Leave
The new COVID-19 leave introduced into the Canada Labour Code provides employees with up to 16 weeks, or such number of weeks that may be set by regulation, if they are unable or unavailable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.
An employee is required to give written notice to the employer as soon as possible with respect to the reasons for the leave and its intended length or any change in the length of the leave. An employer may also require the employee to provide a written declaration in support of the reason for the leave, or any change to the length of the leave.
During the leave, among other things:
- Consistent with other leaves under the Code, a vacation may be interrupted to take the COVID-19 Leave.
- the pension, health and disability benefits and the seniority of an employee continue to accumulate. If an employee normally pays premiums for their benefits coverage, they are required to continue to pay them within a reasonable time throughout the leave (and the employer is only required to continue paying the employer share) or else the benefits (and employer contributions) may cease; and
- if the employee makes a written request, the employer must keep the employee informed in writing of every employment, promotion or training opportunity that arises during the leave of absence for which the employee is qualified.
- The period in which a parental leave may be taken (78 weeks) may be extended by the COVID-19 Leave, and the number of weeks available for that leave (63) may be interrupted as a result of a COVID-19 Leave.
As with other leaves under the Code, an employer cannot dismiss, suspend, lay off, demote or discipline an employee because the employee intends to take a COVID-19 Leave, nor can the employer take that leave into account in any decision to promote or train the employee. However, if the employee is unable to perform their previous work as a result of the absence, the employer may reassign the employee to a different position with different terms and conditions.
The COVID-19 leave is in place until October 1, 2020, at which time it is currently scheduled to be removed from the Canada Labour Code.
II. Medical Leave to include Quarantine
The medical leave provision under the Canada Labour Code is amended effective October 1, 2020, to add quarantine as one of the reasons a 16-week medical leave can be taken.
In addition to these change, other amendments have been made to limit an employer’s ability to request doctors’ notes for other statutory leaves, such as Compassionate Care Leave, Leave for Critical Illness or Medical Leave. This provision will be repealed on September 30, 2020.