On March 23, 2020, the BC government introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Act, creating two new unpaid statutory leaves: COVID-19-related Leave and Illness and Injury Leave. This article provides information on COVID-19-related Leave.
Employees meeting the following criteria are entitled to COVID-19-related Leave:
- Employees diagnosed with COVID-19 and acting in accordance with advice from a medical health officer, or a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or registered nurse;
- Employees in quarantine or self-isolation in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the Quarantine Act, or the guidelines imposed by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, or the guidelines of the Public Health Agency of Canada;
- The employer has directed the employee not to work due to concerns of exposure to others;
- Employees providing care to their child or other eligible person, including because of the closure of a school or daycare or similar facility; or
- Employees outside of the province and unable to return due to travel or border restrictions.
The period of the COVID-19-related leave will continue for as long as the circumstance exists that caused the need for the leave.
Employers are prohibited from requiring medical notes associated with these circumstances, although other forms of proof may be requested.
Notably, these changes are retroactive to January 27, 2020. If employees have been terminated for any of the reasons prescribed, they are entitled to be re-employed and the period of their absence will be deemed a statutory leave.
The availability of this leave is expected to be a temporary measure that will be repealed when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Information provided by Ryan Anderson, an employment lawyer with Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP. The information provided in this article is necessarily of a general nature and must not be regarded as legal advice. For more information about Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, please visit mathewsdinsdale.com.