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Covid-19 Related Changes to the Canada Labour Code

  • Photo: “Canadian Flag” by Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine is licensed under CC0 1.0

Most employees fall under provincial employment standards legislation. However, if your employer is federally regulated, the Canada Labour Code (CLC) applies. Federally regulated businesses include banks, telecommunication companies, and transportation companies that cross provincial boundaries.  

The CLC now includes a COVID-19 related leave. This leave applies in federally-regulated workplaces until October 1, 2020. After that, it is anticipated that it will be replaced with a quarantine leave.

The CLC’s covid-19 related leave applies to employees who are “unable or unavailable to work for reasons related to COVID-19”. It is an unpaid leave.

The leave is for up to 16 weeks, or such other period as may be specified in regulations.

An employee wishing to take this leave must as soon as possible provide written notice to the employer, identifying the reason for and length of the leave. The employee must also notify the employer in writing as soon as possible if the length of the leave changes.

Employees are not required to provide a medical certificate to take this leave. Employers may require employees to provide written declarations supporting their requests for the leave and also to change the length of the leave.

While on this leave:

  • The employee’s work is deemed continuous and his or her pension, health, disability benefits and seniority continue during the leave, although the employer may require that the employee pay his or her portion of benefit premiums while on leave in order for benefits to continue;
  • An employer may not dismiss, suspend, lay off, demote or discipline an employee because the employee has taken or intends to take a covid-19 related leave of absence. for taking the leave; and
  • Employees are entitled, if they ask in writing, to be informed of employment, promotion, and training opportunities that may be available to them while on leave.

As with other leaves under the CLC, an employee’s vacation may be interrupted to take this leave.

It is expected that on October 1, 2020, the covid-19 leave will be replaced by a new provision under the existing medical leave (s. 239). It is anticipated that it will entitle employees to a medical leave of absence of up to 16 weeks as a result of quarantine.

Employees under the CLC may now take leaves of absence under sections 206.3 (compassionate care Leave), 206.4 (critical illness) and 239 (medical leave) without a health care practitioner certificate. It is expected that this provision will be repealed on September 30, 2020.

This is a slightly modified version of an article that is appearing in the Kelowna Capital News and other online publications on or about April 25, 2020. The content of this article is intended to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. Advice from an experienced legal professional should be sought about your specific circumstances.  We may be reached through our website at