On March 17, 2020, the government of Saskatchewan amended its employment standards to ensure that employees have access to job-protected leaves during a public health emergency. The primary focus of these amendments to the Saskatchewan Employment Act was the enactment of a new legislated leave called Public Health Emergency Leave for provincially-regulated employees. Our Saskatchewan employee handbook template has been updated as follows:
- Public Health Emergency Leave - New!
Public Health Emergency Leave
The Public Health Emergency Leave was enacted through Bill No. 207, an Act to amend The Saskatchewan Employment Act, to provide protection to employees who have been directed to isolate themselves and certain other employees impacted by COVID-19.
Employees are eligible for the Public Health Emergency Leave when the Chief Medical Health Officer has declared a public health emergency. It is available to employees who have been ordered to isolate by one of the following:
- their employer;
- the government;
- their doctor; or
- the Chief Medical Health Officer for Saskatchewan.
This leave provides employers an opportunity to order an employee to stay home if they are showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. However, if an employer’s direction to self-isolate conflicts with the opinion of a qualified medical practitioner, the opinion of the medical practitioner will prevail. The length of the leave depends on the length of time the employee has been ordered to isolate.
The amendments also remove the requirement of 13 consecutive weeks of employment with an employer before accessing sick leave, and the provision requiring a doctor’s note or certificate.
Employees are only entitled to be paid and receive their benefits if their employer has authorized them to work from home during their period of isolation. If working from home is not an option, or the employer hasn't authorize it, then the employee isn't entitled to be paid.
However, employees may have access to other provincial and federal financial benefits. In addition, employees who have entitlement to sick leave under a workplace policy, collective agreement, or other employment contract may be able to invoke that leave rather than take the unpaid public health emergency leave.