Significant changes to the Canada Labour Code (the Code) are coming into effect on December 1, 2022, providing employees of federally-regulated entities with 10 days of paid medical leave per year. This entitlement was introduced in Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, which received Royal Assent on December 17, 2021.
More specifically, when the new leave provisions come into effect, employees will be entitled to three days of paid medical leave after 30 days of continuous employment. They will earn one further day per month up to a maximum of 10 days per calendar year after completing one month of continuous employment. Any days of medical leave that an employee does not take in a calendar year will carry forward to the next calendar year. However, each day carried over reduces the number of days earned in that next year by one. Thus, each year, the maximum number of medical leave days an employee will be entitled to take will always be 10.
The amendments come into effect on December 1, 2022, meaning that employees will become entitled to their first three days of leave as of December 31, 2022, which will carry over into 2023 if they are not used. A further day will be earned by employees on February 1, 2023, and will continue to be earned on the first day of each subsequent month in 2023 up to the maximum of 10 days.
The amendments coming into effect also include the following key provisions:
- Medical certificate: If an employee’s medical leave is five consecutive days or longer, an employer may request that the employee provide a certificate issued by a health care practitioner certifying that the employee was incapable of working for the period of their medical leave. This request must be made in writing and no later than 15 days after the employee’s return to work.
- Full wages: Each day of medical leave an employee takes must be paid at their regular rate of wages for their normal hours of work, calculated in the same manner as other paid leaves under the Code.
- Duration of the leave: An employee may take a paid medical leave in one or more periods, but an employer is entitled to require an employee to take paid medical leave in full-day increments.
The new paid medical leave entitlements are in addition to the personal leave days introduced in 2019. However, effective December 1, 2022, the reasons for which personal leave can be taken will be narrowed to account for the introduction of the paid medical leave entitlements. Employees will no longer be able to take personal leave under the Code for “treating illness or injury.”
On November 7, 2022, the Government of Canada published the final version of the Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Canadian Labour Code (Medical Leave with Pay) (the Regulations), which give effect to the new paid medical leave entitlements. The Regulations, which also come into effect on December 1, 2022, introduce record-keeping requirements that will require all employers to keep the following records related to each period of medical leave with pay:
- The dates of commencement and termination 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.
The Regulations also permit employers that base annual vacation entitlements under the Code on a year other than the calendar year, for example, an employer’s fiscal year, to use that same alternate year to calculate employee entitlements to paid medical leave. The same carry-over rules noted above will apply to such alternate calendar years.
With the introduction of the paid medical leave entitlements under the Code, employees governed by the Code now have the greatest legislated paid sick leave entitlements in Canada. Federally-regulated employers that do not currently provide equivalent or greater paid sick leave entitlements to their employees will need to ensure that they update their policies and practices to comply with these amendments to the Code.
For questions related to your new medical leave obligations as a federally-regulated employer or for advice on how to ensure your compliance with these new requirements, please contact a member of the Dentons Canada Employment and Labour group.