Alberta’s Employment Standards Code Adds Compassionate Care Leave

Starting on February 1, 2014, Alberta’s Employment Standards Code will require employers to provide compassionate care leave to employees. The new provisions will allow qualifying employees up to eight weeks of leave to provide care or support to a seriously ill family member if the employee is the primary caregiver. To qualify for compassionate care leave, employees will need to provide the employer with a certificate from a physician stating a family member has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks and requires the support of one or more family members. Employees must also have been employed by their employers for 52 consecutive weeks to receive this entitlement. Employees’ jobs are protected while they are taking this leave.

While some employers may have already provided this type of leave as an accommodation under human rights legislation or as a matter of policy, the amended Code now sets out the minimum obligations of both employees and employers quite clearly. Because Alberta is the last jurisdiction in Canada to introduce compassionate care leave we do not anticipate any interpretation disputes regarding minimum entitlements and requirements under this new leave, as can sometimes be the case with new legislation. To ensure employers are prepared to implement compassionate care leave we recommend reviewing internal policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the new minimum entitlements.

If you have any questions about this new law or would like assistance reviewing your company’s internal policies and procedures, please contact any member of the McCarthy Tétrault Labour Group.