Minister O’Regan announces final regulations to bring 10 days of paid sick leave into force
The Minister of Labour has a mandate commitment (2021 Mandate Letter) to secure passage of amendments to the Canada Labour Code (the Code) to provide 10 days of paid sick leave for all employees in a federally regulated private sector workplace.
On December 17, 2021, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code (Bill C-3) received royal assent. This bill amends Part III (Labour Standards) of the Code to provide 10 days of paid sick leave (medical leave with pay) to federally regulated private sector workers. Then, on June 23, 2022, the Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1 received royal assent, which includes further amendments to Bill C-3.
The legislation, along with the supporting regulations, will come into force on December 1, 2022.
The federally regulated private sector includes about 945,000 employees (or 6% of all Canadian employees) working for 19,000 employers in industries such as banking, telecommunications, broadcasting, and inter-provincial and international transportation (including air, rail, maritime and trucking), as well as federal Crown corporations and certain activities on First Nations reserves. Part III of the Code does not apply to the federal public service.
Accumulating paid sick leave
The legislation and supporting regulations come into force on December 1, 2022. As of December 31, 2022, current employees who have completed at least 30 days of continuous employment will have access to their first three days of paid sick leave. Employees hired after December 1, 2022, will also be entitled to three days of paid sick leave after completing 30 days of continuous employment. For example, if an employee starts working on January 25, 2023, and completes 30 days of continuous employment on February 23, 2023, they would be entitled to their first three days of paid sick leave on February 24, 2023.
Starting on February 1, 2023, employees will acquire a fourth day of paid sick leave and will continue to accumulate one day of paid sick leave each following month, up to a maximum of 10 days per year.
Reasons for which paid sick leave can be taken
An employee can take paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- personal illness or injury;
- organ or tissue donation;
- medical appointments during working hours; or
- quarantine of the employee.
As of December 1, 2022, the Code will be amended to remove treating an employee’s illness or injury from the reasons for which personal leave may be taken. Therefore, an employee will no longer be able to take personal leave to treat their illness or injury.
All employees are entitled to paid sick leave, including part-time, casual and contract employees, as well as employees engaged in multi-employer employment. Employers will be allowed to administer paid sick leave on the basis of either a fiscal year or a calendar year.
Employees who take paid sick leave and who are paid on a basis other than time (such as salespeople paid by commission) will be entitled to pay at their regular rate of wages. The method used to calculate the regular rate of wages will be consistent with the one used for personal leave.
Unpaid student interns will continue to be eligible for unpaid medical leave and not paid sick leave.
Unpaid medical leave provides up to 17 weeks for illness, injury, organ or tissue donation, or attending medical appointments, and it provides 16 weeks for quarantine. The Government of Canada is currently working to increase the maximum length of unpaid medical leave available to 27 weeks under the Code to align with the upcoming extension to the Employment Insurance sickness benefits (from 15 to 26 weeks).
For more information, see Types of leaves offered to federally regulated employees.
Application of paid sick leave
Similar to other provisions of the Code, the new paid sick leave is a minimum standard. If there is an existing employer benefit that is greater than the new leave, that leave or benefit will be considered to meet the minimum standard.
Employers will be required to:
- keep the following records related to each period of paid sick leave that an employee takes:
- the start and end dates of the leave;
- the year of employment in respect of which the leave was earned;
- the number of days of leave carried over from a previous year;
- a copy of any written request for a medical certificate made by an employer; and
- a copy of any medical certificate submitted by an employee;
- count paid sick leave toward the employee’s hours worked during an averaging period; and
- define a year for the purposes of paid sick leave entitlements as:
- a calendar year; or
- an alternate year period used by the employer for the purposes of calculating annual vacation entitlement.
Once the legislation and supporting regulations come into force, employers may request that their employee provide a medical certificate issued by a health care practitioner, if the employee is absent for five consecutive days or longer. Employers must make this request within 15 days after the employee returns to work.
Employers who do not comply with the new provisions are subject to a number of compliance and enforcement measures, including administrative monetary penalties. For more information on administrative monetary penalties, see the Interpretations, Policies and Guidelines (IPG) document on administrative monetary penalties.
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