Amendments to the Canada Labour Code to provide ten days of paid sick leave

Backgrounder

The Government of Canada has authority to legislate paid sick leave, via Part III of the Canada Labour Code, for the federally regulated private sector. This sector includes about 955,000 employees (or approximately 6% of all Canadian employees) working for 18,500 employers in industries such as banking, telecommunications, broadcasting and inter-provincial and international transportation (including air, rail, maritime and road transportation), for federal Crown corporations, as well as for certain activities on First Nations reserves.

The legislation amends medical leave under Part III of the Canada Labour Code to provide that:

  • thirty days after these provisions come into force employees will earn their first three days of paid sick leave to help ensure employees have adequate paid sick leave should they need it;
  • for new employees, they will earn the first three days of paid sick leave thirty days after starting a new job;
  • employees are entitled to earn one day of medical leave with pay for each month of employment with an employer, up to a maximum of ten days in a calendar year;*
  • any day of medical leave with pay that an employee does not take in a calendar year carries forward to January 1st of the following calendar year and counts toward the ten days that can be earned in the new year; and
  • the maximum number of days of medical leave with pay that an employee can take in a calendar year is ten; and
  • employers are permitted to request a medical certificate for medical leaves of absence with pay that are five days or longer.

In addition, the legislation amends bereavement leave under Part III of the Canada Labour Code to provide up to eight weeks of leave for employees who lose a child or experience a stillbirth. This builds off of the three days of paid leave currently available for employees who have completed three months of continuous employment.   

These provisions will come into force by Order in Council. If employers provide more generous leave provisions, those provisions will prevail.

The Canada Labour Code currently provides employees in federally regulated industries with five leaves related to personal illness or injury: 

  • Personal leave provides employees with up to five days of leave per year for personal illness or injury, family responsibilities, urgent matters concerning themselves or their families, or attending their citizenship ceremony. The first three days of this leave are paid if the employee has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment with the employer. In order to avoid the duplication of leave provisions under the Code, when the legislation comes into force, it will remove “personal illness or injury” from the list of reasons for which an employee is entitled to take personal leave.
  • Medical leave provides employees with an unpaid leave of up to 17 weeks if they are unable to work due to personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, or medical appointments during working hours.
  • Work-related illness or injury leave provides employees the right to be absent from work for an indefinite period if they suffer a work-related illness or injury.
  • The leave of absence for members of the Reserve Force provides members of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Force with leave for as long as necessary to treat, recover from, or undergo rehabilitation for a physical or mental health problem that results from service in an operation or activity listed in the Code. While on leave, employees are entitled to various compensation programs provided by the Government of Canada.
  • In March 2020, the Code was amended to create the leave related to COVID-19. Prior to November 20, 2021, this leave allowed employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for up to four weeks if they were unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, including if they have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19, and up to 42 weeks if they were unable to work because of caregiving responsibilities related to COVID-19. The leave related to COVID-19 was designed to align with the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB); the eligibility period for the benefits ended on November 20, 2021 and the leave related to COVID-19 was repealed on the same day. Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19, proposes to extend the eligibility period for the benefits until May 7, 2022, to increase the maximum length of the CRSB and the CRCB by two additional weeks, and to reinstate the leave accordingly.

The Canada Labour Code currently provides employees in federally regulated industries with up to ten days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member. 

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