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Bill 24: COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act Receives Royal Assent

02-Jul-20

By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

On June 25, 2020, Bill 24: COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act 2020 (the “Bill”) received its third reading in the Alberta legislature. During the third reading of the Bill, the Minister of Finance specified that the amendments the Bill introduces are to protect public health, support Alberta’s reopening, and manage the government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now that the state of emergency has ended.

The Bill received Royal Assent on June 26, 2020.  It includes retroactive amendments dating back to the First Reading of Bill 24, such as:

  • The extension of unpaid job-protected leave under the Employment Standards (COVID-19 Leave) Regulation until August 2021 is operative as of June 18, 2020.  This Regulation allows employees to take a 14-day unpaid leave if under quarantine, without a requirement to be employed for 90 days or to provide a medical certificate or a copy of a medical certificate to the employer; and
  • The increase in the maximum period for a temporary layoff to 180 consecutive days applies to any temporary layoff resulting from COVID-19 that is ongoing as of the Bill's first reading, June 18, 2020, or arises on or after June 18, 2020. Further, this 180-day extended layoff period continues until repealed.

While the Bill extends unpaid job-protected leave under the Employment Standards (COVID-19 Leave) Regulation, all other changes made to Employment Standards through Ministerial Order 2020-18 in response to COVID-19 will end on August 14, 2020, 60 days after the expiry of Alberta’s state of emergency.  This includes the provision that provided unpaid personal and family responsibility leave relating to childcare affected by the closure of schools or daycares as a result of COVID-19.

All of these changes are subject to further change and any introduction of a new Employment Standards Code, which has been anticipated for some time.

Should you have any questions regarding Bill 24 and its implications to your workplace or industry, please contact any member of our Labour & Employment team.

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