As of May 2018, the entitlement to unpaid compassionate care leave in BC has increased from eight weeks to 27 weeks (six months).
Section 52.1 of the Employment Standards Act provides that:
- Employers must reinstate an employee returning from a compassionate care leave
- Employers may demand a doctor’s certificate verifying the family member’s illness
- Employees can apply for multiple leaves to care for different family members and for a second leave for the same family member if he or she survives for more than 26 weeks
- Employees are entitled to a maximum of 27 weeks unpaid leave within a period of 52 weeks
Employees may take Compassionate Care Leave to care for “family members” which includes in-laws, step-siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, current or former foster parents, ward or guardian, as well as immediate family members. The Act also allows for claims based on some non-familial relationships, including an individual with a serious medical condition who is “like a close relative” to the employee.
Employers are not required to pay wages during compassionate care leaves; however, most employees will be entitled to receive compassionate care leave benefits from the Employment Insurance Commission. Over the course of the leave, the employee will be considered as continuously employed for the purposes of calculating annual vacation and termination entitlements, as well as for pension, medical or other plans of benefit to the employee and employers must continue to make payments to these types of plans.
To view the specific provisions of the Act in detail, visit the Interpretation Manual – Section 52.1
For an overview of Compassionate Care Leave entitlements, visit the Employment Standards Branch Factsheet
Information provided by Ryan Anderson and Natasha Jategaonkar, employment lawyers with Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP. The information provided in this article is necessarily of a general nature and must not be regarded as legal advice. For more information about Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, please visit mathewsdinsdale.com.