On September 4, the Government of Canada extended the maximum allowable length of leave related to COVID-19 from 24 weeks to 28 weeks to align with the recent increase to the maximum number of weeks a worker is eligible to receive Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments. The CERB provides income support, while the leave provides federally regulated employees with access to job-protected time away from work.1

Now, employees working in federally regulated workplaces are entitled to up to 28 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable or unavailable to work due, for example, to:

  • Quarantine;
  • Caring for family members due to COVID-19; or
  • Being otherwise unable to work due to reasons related to COVID-19.

To take this leave employees must provide their employers with written notice, as soon as possible, of the reason and length of leave they intend to take and must notify their employers of any changes to the length.

Moreover, this leave is temporary and not retroactive. The leave is expected to be repealed on October 1, 2020, unless otherwise indicated by the federal government. However, it should be noted that employees who are legally entitled to this leave and go on it prior to October 1, 2020, will normally be entitled to the complete leave period (up to 28 weeks), even if the leave period goes beyond October 1. 

In addition, employers would be wise to recall that the Canada Labour Code provides the minimum requirements for a COVID-19-related leave. If a collective agreement, policy or other arrangement provides better additional leave, which includes paid leave for illness or care of family members, employees are entitled to take that leave instead of or in addition to the COVID-19 leave. The Code also provides for paid leave for personal illness, or family-related health reasons, which can be taken in addition to or instead of the COVID-19 leave.

The Government of Canada has said it "will continue to monitor and respond to the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 and will take additional action as needed to protect Canadian workers and stabilize the economy."

We will keep you updated if further information is made available to the public.


1   This legal update was drafted based on the information and language provided by the federal Labour Program

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