Canada: New Paid Medical Leave Entitlement to Federally Regulated Employees
Effective December 1, 2022, federally regulated employees shall be entitled to paid medical leave as a result of amendments to the Canada Labour Code (“Code”). The new paid medical leave entitlement was included in Bill C-3- An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, which was introduced in the House of Commons on November 26, 2021, and received Royal Assent on December 17, 2021. Soon after, Federal Bill C-19, Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1, received Royal Assent on June 23, 2022, which included further amendments to the forthcoming paid medical leave provisions of the Canada Labour Code. These amendments have not been proclaimed into force. However, the new leave will come into force on December 1, 2022.
As a result of the combined effect of Bill C-3 and Bill C-19, federally regulated employers will be required to provide employees with paid medical leave.
Existing Medical Leave Entitlement
Previously section 206.6(1)(a) of the Code provided for 5 days of unpaid personal leave in every calendar year for personal illness or injury. If the employee has completed 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the employer, the employee’s entitlement to unpaid personal leave shall be paid for the first 3 days. This unpaid personal leave for personal injury or illness will be repealed on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council, but no later than December 1, 2022.
Employees will continue to be entitled to a leave of absence of up to 5 days in every calendar year for carrying out responsibilities related to the health or care of any of their family members, for the education of any of their family members who are under 18 years of age, addressing any urgent matter concerning themselves or their family members & attending their citizenship ceremony. The existing entitlement to personal leave to treat illness/injury will continue to apply to employers with less than 100 employees.
In addition to the above-mentioned personal leave, the entitlement to an unpaid medical leave of absence from employment for up to 17 weeks as a result of personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, or medical appointments during working hours, remains unchanged. The entitlement to a medical leave of absence from employment for up to 16 weeks as a result of quarantine also remains unchanged.
New Paid Medical Leave Entitlement
In accordance with the amendment, employees shall be entitled to 3 days of paid medical leave after 30 days of continuous employment. Thereafter, employees shall be entitled to accrue 1 day of paid medical leave per month, up to a maximum of 10 paid leave days per calendar year. Each paid day must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of wages for each day of medical leave. The paid leave may be taken in one or more periods, and the employer may require that each period of leave is a minimum of one day’s duration.
The new paid medical leave requirement will only apply initially to employers with 100 or more employees. However, this provision is to be repealed at some future date, such that the requirement will have broad application.
Carry Over – The accrued but unused paid leave days can be carried over to January 1 of the following year. But the maximum number of leave days that the employee can earn during the subsequent calendar year will be reduced in equal measure, such that in no year does the employee’s paid medical leave entitlement exceed 10 days.
An employer has the right to request in writing that an employee furnish a medical certificate for any period of paid or unpaid medical leave that lasts at least 5 consecutive days within 15 days of the employee’s return to work.
The Federal Government also has proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Canada Labour Code (Medical Leave with Pay) which among other requirements states that employers shall keep the following records related to each period of medical leave with pay:
- dates of commencement and termination of leave;
- the year of employment when leave was earned;
- the number of days of leave carried over from a previous year;
- copy of any written request for a medical certificate made by an employer; and
- copy of any medical certificate submitted by an employee.
Federally regulated employers with 100 or more employees need to be aware of the new paid medical leave provisions, which will come into force on or before December 1, 2022. Employers are encouraged to review their existing leave entitlements in order to see that it satisfies the upcoming new paid leave entitlement and take steps to ensure compliance once the new leave entitlements come into force.