On March 23, 2020, the B.C. government introduced and passed Bill 16 – 2020: Employment Standards Amendment Act (No. 2), 2020, which amended the Employment Standards Act (ESA) to include unpaid leave for personal illness or injury and COVID-19-related illness. Our BC employee handbook template has been updated as follows:
- COVID-19 Leave - Added!
- Personal Illness or Injury Leave - Added!
The COVID-19 Leave allows for employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to work for any of the following reasons relating to COVID-19:
- They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are following the instructions of a medical health officer or the advice of a doctor or nurse.
- They are in quarantine or self-isolation and are acting in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the Quarantine Act (Canada), guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control or guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
- Their employer has directed them not to work due to concern about their exposure to others.
- They need to provide care to their minor child or a dependent adult who is their child or former foster child for a reason related to COVID-19, including a school, daycare or similar facility closure.
- They are outside of BC and unable to return to work due to travel or border restrictions.
The COVID-19 Leave is retroactive to January 27, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in the province. As a result, an employer that has terminated an employee between January 27, 2020 and March 23, 2020 due to one of the COVID-19 circumstances described above needs to offer the employee either the same job or a comparable position. Upon the employee's reinstatement, his or her absence from employment following the termination will be deemed a leave of absence.
During this public health emergency, workers can take this job-protected leave for as long as one of the COVID-19 issues described above applies to them. Employers may not request a note from a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or registered nurse. However, employers may request reasonably sufficient proof that the employee is entitled to one of the types of COVID-19-Related Leave.
PERSONAL ILLNESS OR INJURY LEAVE
The Personal Illness or Injury Leave provides up to 3 days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for employees who are unable to work due to illness or injury. This leave applies to employees who have worked for their employer for at least 90 days. This is a permanent change to the BC Employment Standards Act.