The legislation is meant to improve the working conditions for the nearly one million workers in the federally regulated private sector, which includes interprovincial air, rail, road and marine transportation; banks; and postal and courier services.
Among other things, the new paid sick leave is expected to reduce the number of days workers show up to work sick, reduce the spread of illness, and help workers recover faster.
The final Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Canada Labour Code (Medical Leave with Pay) outline essential elements of the new paid sick leave provisions. This includes the following:
- As of Dec. 31, 2022, employees who have been continuously employed for at least 30 days will have access to their first three days of paid sick leave. As of Feb. 1, 2023, employees will acquire a fourth day and will continue to accumulate one day a month up to a maximum of 10 days per year.
- Employers can request a medical certificate if an employee is absent for five days or more in a row.
- Employees on paid sick leave who are paid on a basis other than time, such as salespeople paid by commission, will be entitled to the regular rate of wages.
All employees are entitled to paid sick leave, including part-time, casual and contract employees, as well as those engaged in multi-employer employment. An employee can take paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- personal illness or injury
- organ or tissue donation
- medical appointments during working hours
- quarantine of the employee.
As of Dec. 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.
Similar to other provisions of the code, the new paid sick leave is a minimum standard, says Ottawa. 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.
Once the legislation and regulations come into force, employers may request that their employee provides 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.
The government will host information sessions in November, and guidance documents are available online to help stakeholders prepare for the coming into force.
Employees also currently have access to unpaid medical leave, which currently provides up to 17 weeks if they are unable to work as a result of illness, injury, organ or tissue donation, or attending medical appointments, and up to 16 weeks of leave as a result of quarantine.