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Alberta Government Issues Regulation on Employment Leave for COVID-19

18-Mar-20

By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

The Government of Alberta has now issued the Employment Standards (COVID-19 Leave) Regulation that we have been awaiting since the unofficial announcement last Friday March 20, 2020 of a new leave related to COVID-19.

The Regulation provides the following:

  1. All employees are entitled to unpaid leave for 14 consecutive days if an employee is under quarantine related to COVID-19.
  2. There is no requirement to be employed for 90 days in order to qualify for the leave (as is the case with other forms of leave under the Employment Standards Code).
  3. There is no requirement to provide a medical certificate to the employer.
  4. Nothing in this new Regulation affects the right of an employee to the illness and injury leave of 16 weeks under the Employment Standards Code.  That is, it is an additional leave.
  5. An employee under quarantine is not required to give any notice (written or otherwise) to the employer of the date the employee intends to come to work.  It is unclear how this corresponds with the fact that the leave is only supposed to be 14 days, but it suggests the unpaid leave could be longer than 14 days.
  6. The Minister of Labour may extend the leave if recommended by the Chief Medical Officer.
  7. The right to this leave is to apply retroactively to March 5, 2020.

The Government’s announcement last Friday was of a paid leave. It is now clear that the pay protection has been arranged through the federal government’s expansion of the Employment Insurance program, announced earlier today.

The Regulation confirms our expectation, which we communicated yesterday, that the Government would reduce or remove any cost to employers through this leave (in recognition of the heavy economic damage being suffered by employers).

The expansion of the Employment Insurance benefit is designed to shelter employees from the need to work (and risk infection to others) for financial reasons.

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