In A Flash

Nova Scotia extends employee unpaid leaves to align with changes to federal Employment Insurance

On October 11, amendments to the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code were proclaimed that extend unpaid leaves available to new parents and parents of critically ill children in order to take into account recent federal changes that extended EI benefits.

The Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Labour Standards Code, 2nd Sess, 63rd Leg, Nova Scotia, 2018 (“Bill No. 29”) adds provisions to the Code relating to unpaid leaves in order to align with federal employment insurance benefits.

Bill No. 29 amends the Code by:

  • reducing pregnancy leave from 17 weeks to 16 weeks;
  • increasing parental leave from 52 weeks to 77 weeks;
  • increasing combined pregnancy and parental leaves from 52 weeks to 77 weeks;
  • extends eligibility for critically ill or injured child leave to employees who are family members of the child; and
  • establishes a 16-week unpaid leave for an employee’s critically ill or injured adult family member.

To be entitled to critically ill adult care leave, a legally qualified medical practitioner must issue a certificate stating that the adult is critically ill and requires the care and support of the employee and must also set out the period during which the adult requires the care or support and an employer may request a copy of the certificate in writing.  The new provisions also prescribe details as to when it can be taken and return to work following the leave.

The Legislature rejected amendments proposed by the NDP which would have granted job protection to employees who take leave after only 17 weeks of employment.  The Government promised to address the issue of job security through Regulations.

Bill No. 29 was given first reading on September 13, 2018 and was given Royal Assent just last week on October 11, 2018.

In other activity at the fall sitting of the Nova Scotia Legislative, a private member’s bill was defeated that would have required employers to provide six paid sick days per year, instead of the current three unpaid sick days.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

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