Background

The federal government passed Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code on December 17, 2021. While Bill C-2 focused on providing support for reasons specifically related to COVID-19, Bill C-3 enhances paid sick leave and bereavement leave under the Canada Labour Code (the “CLC”) not specific to COVID-19 reasons.

Paid Sick Leave

Employees that are subject to the CLC are eligible to take 3 days of paid sick leave if they have completed 30 days of continuous employment. If employees have completed more than 60 days of continuous work, employees are eligible for one day of paid sick leave at the beginning of each month, up to a maximum of 10 days. If employees do not take all of their paid days in a calendar year, they can carry forward each day of leave to the following calendar year. However, each day that is carried forward will count toward the 10 days that can be earned in that new year.

This leave can be taken in multiple periods or all at once. However, employers can require that each period of leave is not less than one day. Also, employers can request that employees provide a certificate issued by a health care practitioner indicating their inability to work during the leave, if employees take five or more days of paid sick leave, or 3 or more days of unpaid leave. Employers have no more than 15 days from when the employee returns to work from a medical leave to request this certificate.

Bereavement Leave

Eligibility for unpaid bereavement leave is expanded by providing leave up to 8 weeks if an employee has experienced the death or stillbirth of their child, or their spouse or common-law partner’s child. The leave may be taken from the date of the death or stillbirth, until 12 weeks after a funeral, burial, or memorial service occurred, whichever is later. For employees experiencing the death of another member of their immediate family, eligibility for this leave remains at up to 10 days.

Key Takeaways

The amendments to the CLC under Bill C-3 are awaiting proclamation. In the meantime, federally-regulated employers should take note of the enhanced leaves of absence available for employees and ensure their current policies reflect the amendments. Throughout the pandemic, there has been increasing attention on paid sick leave. British Columbia has recently introduced a permanent paid sick leave program, while provinces like Ontario have implemented temporary leaves for reasons specific to COVID-19. We will continue to monitor whether additional jurisdictions in Canada follow suit of the federal government and provinces such as British Columbia.