A change to the Canada Labour Code adds 10 new days of paid leave for federally regulated workers
As a result of new provisions in the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) that came into force on December 1, 2022, Canadian workers in federally regulated sectors are now entitled to ten days of medical leave. The change was first announced by the government more than a year ago, so that workers who were unwell would no longer have to choose between self-isolating and receiving pay.
Ten days of medical leave
The ten days of medical leave are not available to workers immediately upon hiring; they must be accumulated over time. The Code does entitle employees to three days of paid medical leave (also known as sick days) after thirty days of employment. Sick days must be paid at the regular rate for the employee’s normal hours of work or based on averaged earnings over the previous twenty days worked, excluding overtime.
After this first month, employees accumulate an additional day of paid medical leave at the beginning of each month following a month of continuous employment, up to a maximum of ten days per year. Although these sick days are not cumulative, unused leave in one year will be carried over to the next year and deducted from the maximum number that can be accumulated.
In order to take a medical leave of absence, employees must give at least four weeks’ written notice of the date and duration of the leave. If an employee is unable, for a valid reason, to give such notice, or if there is a change to the expected length of their leave, they must notify the employer, in writing, “as soon as possible.”
It should be noted that prior to December 1, 2022, employees under federal jurisdiction had no paid medical leave. In Quebec, the Act respecting labour standards has provided, since January 1, 2019, provincially regulated workers with two days of paid leave, including medical leave, per year.
What are employers’ rights and obligations?
Once an employee has taken a medical leave of at least five consecutive days, employers are entitled to require that they provide a certificate from a health care professional certifying that they were unable to work during the relevant period. The Code stipulates that such requests must be made in writing and no later than fifteen days after the employee’s return to work.
While employees’ ten days of leave may be divided into multiple periods, the Code authorizes employers to demand that each period be at least one day in length.
Also of interest: new provisions in the Canada Labour Standards Regulations require that employers keep detailed records of all medical leaves taken, including their start and end dates, the year of service in which it was earned, the number of days of leave carried forward from a previous year, a copy of any written request for a medical certificate and a copy of any related medical certificate submitted.
Finally, with certain exceptions, , it is prohibited to dismiss, suspend, lay off, demote or discipline an employee for taking or planning to take medical leave.
Another change to the Code
In addition to these new provisions granting ten days of paid leave, effective December 18, 2022, the Code entitles employees to twenty-seven weeks of leave, rather than seventeen, for illness, injury, organ or tissue donation, medical appointments or quarantine.
If you have questions on this matter, do not hesitate to contact a member of our Labour and Employment Law team.