To address the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta and Saskatchewan government have amended legislation to provide employees with job protected leave if they are required to self-isolate.
Job Protection Measures
The Alberta government has amended the Alberta Employment Standards Code by Order in Councilto allow full and part-time employees to take fourteen days of job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate, and/or they are caring for a child or dependent adult that is required to self-isolate. This legislation is retroactive to March 5, 2020.
Employees will not be required to have a medical note, nor do they need to have worked for an employer for ninety days in order to be eligible for this leave. Self-employed individuals and contractors will not qualify for this leave.
At this time, this new job-protected leave is meant to cover the fourteen day self-isolation period recommended by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer. The duration of this leave could be extended as the virus continues to unfold and medical recommendations are adjusted accordingly.
Where this leave is not appropriate or insufficient for the employee’s particular circumstances, employees can request to use their vacation pay or banked overtime, but employers are not required to grant the request. Similarly, employers may request that employees voluntarily take vacation leave and/or use their vacation pay or banked overtime, however, the employer cannot unilaterally enforce this on employees under provincial employment standards.
Job Protection Measures
The Government of Saskatchewan has amended the Saskatchewan Employment Act to guarantee access to unpaid job protected leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed amendments to the Act are as follows:
- To remove the requirement of 13 consecutive weeks of employment with the employer prior to accessing sick leave;
- to remove the provision requiring a doctor’s note or certificate; and
- introduction of a new unpaid public health
emergency leave that can be accessed:
- When the World Health Organization has determined that there is a public health emergency and the province’s chief medical health officer has also issued an order that measures be taken to reduce the spread of a disease; or
- the province’s chief medical health officer has independently issued an order that measures be taken provincially to reduce the spread of a disease where it is believed there is sufficient risk of harm to citizens of the province. The orders would also be made public to ensure everyone is aware of the direction.
The amendments to the Act would come into force retroactive to March 6, 2020.
We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.