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Labour

Protecting jobs during difficult times

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Labour

Protecting jobs during difficult times

Updated on March 24, 2020 with additional translations

Media Contacts
COVID-19 Joint Information Centre
Media Relations
embc.covid19jic@gov.bc.ca
236 478-1336
Ministry of Labour
Media Relations
Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 888-8074
(flickr.com)
Media Contacts
COVID-19 Joint Information Centre
Media Relations
embc.covid19jic@gov.bc.ca
236 478-1336
Ministry of Labour
Media Relations
Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 888-8074

Backgrounders

New job-protected leaves for workers

The Government of B.C. has passed amendments to the Employment Standards Act that provide workers covered under the act with job-protected leave if they are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19.

The amendments also include a new three-day unpaid, job-protected sick leave that will support people on an ongoing basis when they cannot work due to illness or injury.

COVID-19 job-protected leave details:

  • The immediate job-protected leave allows workers affected by COVID-19 to stay home as needed without the risk of losing their job.
  • The leave is retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020, when the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in B.C.
  • This protection is available to people considered employees under the Employment Standards Act who are unable to work for the following reasons:
    • they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are acting in accordance with instructions or an order of a medical health officer or the advice of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or registered nurse;
    • they are in quarantine or self-isolation in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the federal Quarantine Act, or guidelines of the BC Centre for Disease Control or the Public Health Agency of Canada;
    • they have been directed by their employer to stay home because of concerns about their exposure to others;
    • they are unable to return to B.C. because of a travel or border restriction; or
    • they are providing care to their minor child or a dependent adult who is their child or former foster child, including when a school, daycare or similar facility has closed.
  • There is no limit on how long people can take the leave. As long as someone is unable to work due to one of the reasons above, they will be eligible for this leave.
  • In addition to job protection, workers may be eligible for financial supports through expanded federal Employment Insurance benefits.
  • Workers not covered by the Employment Standards Act (e.g., contractors) are also eligible for financial supports through federal Employment Insurance benefits.
  • As with other job leaves, workers may need to give reasonable evidence of eligibility if their employer requests it, but a doctor’s note will not be required.
  • The COVID-19 job-protected leave is tied specifically to the COVID-19 emergency and will be repealed when it is no longer needed.

Permanent three-day job-protected illness or injury leave details:

  • People considered employees under the Employment Standards Act will be able to take up to three days of unpaid, job-protected sick leave per calendar year if they are unable to work due to illness or injury.
  • This brings B.C. in line with most other Canadian jurisdictions, which all offer some form of job-protected illness leave.
  • To qualify, people must have worked for their employer for at least 90 days.
  • As with other job leaves, workers may need to give reasonable evidence of eligibility if their employer requests it.
  • This is a permanent change to the Employment Standards Act and will stay in place when the COVID-19 provisions are repealed.

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