14-Day Unpaid Leave Available for Employees Quarantined due to COVID-19

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We previously reported on the Alberta Government’s proposed changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. On March 17, 2020, the Government enacted the Employment Standards (COVID-19) Leave Regulation, AR 29/2020 (the “Leave Regulation”).

The Leave Regulation varies Alberta’s Employment Standards Code allowing for full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave. Retroactive to March 5, 2020, the following provisions apply to employees in Alberta:

  • An employee is entitled to unpaid leave for 14 consecutive days if the employee is under quarantine as a result of COVID-19 (“COVID-19 Leave”). Quarantine includes self-isolation and self-quarantine (“Quarantine”).
  • An employee who is under Quarantine is exempt from the requirement to be employed for 90 days by the same employer.
  • An employee who is under Quarantine does not have to provide a medical certificate or copy of a medical certificate to their employer in order to qualify for COVID-19 Leave.
  • An employee is not required to give any notice to their employer of the date the employee intends to return to work.
    • Under the existing Long Term Illness and Injury Leave provisions in Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, employees are required to provide at least one week notice of their intent to return unless they agree with the employer otherwise so this requirement is waived for COVID-19 Leave.

The wide reaching effects of COVID-19 are changing daily. In order to adapt to the evolving situation, the Leave Regulation allows for the possibility for the Minister of Labour and Immigration to extend the COVID Leave beyond 14 days if the Chief Medical Officer recommends it is necessary to do so in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect those who have not already been exposed to COVID-19.

While the Leave Regulation confirms that an employee’s COVID Leave will be unpaid, employees may be eligible to receive employment insurance (“EI”) benefits during this COVID Leave or, if an employee does not qualify for EI sickness benefits, they can apply for the federal Emergency Care Benefit, beginning in April of 2020. The Premier of Alberta stated that, following the announcement from the Federal Government, the Alberta Government will determine if additional measures need to be taken.

As the provincial and federal governments continue to adapt and respond to the effects of COVID-19, our Labour & Employment group will keep employers updated and informed on this matter.

If you have any questions about an employee’s leave due to COVID-19 Leave, temporary lay-offs or terminations related to employees on COVID-19 Leave or on how employers should be adapting to these changes, please contact one of the members of our Labour & Employment Group. 

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