This is the second article in our two-part series in which we highlight changes under Quebec’s Bill 176, An Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance.

In our first article, we outlined the new standard for directors’ and officers’ liability and several new compliance obligations for Quebec employers. Here we focus on changes to leave entitlements.

Bill 176 implements numerous changes to facilitate employees taking time off when they need to, including, as the name of the Bill suggests, time off to care for family members. The more generous entitlements are in line with the National Assembly of Quebec’s mandate of promoting family-work balance.

Enhanced Leave Entitlements

Certain leave entitlements have been enhanced, as follows, with some of the changes already in effect and others coming into effect on January 1, 2019.

Entitlement Pre-Bill 176 Bill 176
Annual leave with pay 3 weeks of leave with 5 years of uninterrupted service. 3 weeks of leave with 3 years of uninterrupted service (in effect on Jan. 1, 2019).
Sickness leave

Leave applies to sickness, organ or tissue donation for transplant, or an accident.

At least 3 months of uninterrupted service required for leave entitlement.

Leave is unpaid.

Victims of domestic or sexual violence are now entitled to leave (in effect as of June 12, 2018).

No service requirement (in effect on Jan. 1, 2019).

First 2 days are remunerated with 3 mos. of uninterrupted service (in effect on Jan. 1, 2019).

Family or parental leave, concerning state of health

May be taken because of the state of health of the employee’s spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, or a grandparent.

Leave is unpaid.

May be taken because of the state of health of a relative [1] or a person for whom the employee acts as a caregiver (in effect as of June 12, 2018).

First 2 days are remunerated with 3 mos. of uninterrupted service (in effect on Jan. 1, 2019).

Family or parental leave, concerning the birth/adoption of a child or termination of pregnancy in or after 20th week First 2 days are remunerated with 60 days of uninterrupted service. No service requirement (in effect on Jan. 1, 2019).
Family or parental leave, concerning the death or funeral of a spouse, child, spouse’s child, father, mother, brother or sister 1 paid day and 4 unpaid days. 2 paid days and 3 unpaid days (in effect on Jan. 1, 2019).

[1] “Relative” is broadly defined and includes an employee’s or his/her spouse’s: child; father; mother; brother; sister; grandparent; the above persons’ spouses, children, or children’s spouses; foster parent; foster child; tutor/person under tutorship; curator/person under curatorship; or any person in respect of whom the employee or the employee’s spouse is entitled to certain government benefits.

Bill 176 provides that an employer may request that the employee provide documentation attesting to the reasons for the sick leave absence, if warranted, e.g., by the duration of the absence. This change comes into effect on January 1, 2019. Bill 176 also preserves the employer’s right to dismiss, suspend, or transfer an employee if the circumstances of sick leave or the repetitive nature of sick leave amounts to good and sufficient cause.

Longer Durations for Family or Parental Leaves

In addition, the maximum period of absence has increased for certain categories of family or parental leave. The following changes came into effect on June 12, 2018:

Category of Leave Pre-Bill 176 Bill 176
Caring for a relative because of a serious illness or serious accident (other than a minor child) 12 weeks over a 12 month period 16 weeks over a 12 month period
Caring for a relative because of a serious and potentially mortal illness (other than a minor child) Not defined 27 weeks over a 12 month period
Caring for a minor child because of a serious illness or serious accident 12 weeks over a 12 month period 36 weeks over a 12 month period
Following disappearance of minor child 52 weeks 104 weeks
Following death of minor child Not defined 104 weeks
Following suicide of spouse, parent, or child of full age 52 weeks 104 weeks

Key Takeaways

Most employers will need to review and update their leave policies and procedures to ensure they are in compliance with the new provisions. Employers should also develop guidelines for determining what kind of leave pertains and whether the leave needs to be paid or unpaid. Some employers may need to prepare for workforce continuity issues as a result of increased leave durations, including cross-training their staff on work assignments, and budget for retaining replacement workers based on forecasted need.

    – Many thanks to Jan Nato for his assistance with this article.