Employees in British Columbia who take time off to care for terminally ill family members will soon be entitled to eight weeks’ unpaid leave.
The BC Employment Standards (Compassionate Care Leave) Amendment Act parallels compassionate care leave legislation in every Canadian province except Alberta. The new legislation, which is expected to become effective this month, provides that:
- Employers must reinstate an employee returning from a compassionate care leave.
- Employers may demand a doctor’s certificate verifying the family member’s illness.
- Employees can apply for multiple leaves to care for different family members and for a second leave for the same family member if he or she survives for more than 26 weeks.
Although employers are not required to pay wages during compassionate care leaves, most employees will be entitled to receive compassionate care leave benefits from the Employment Insurance Commission.
Employers should update their leave policies, employee handbooks and employee intranet sites to reflect this new statutory entitlement.