‘This crisis has highlighted the importance of having permanent job-protected illness or injury leave in place for people in this province’
British Columbia has amended its employment standards to allow workers to take job-protected leave amid the COVID-19 pandemic and in the long term.
The province will allow workers to immediately take unpaid, job-protected leaves of absence if they are ill, need to self-isolate, need to care for their child or other dependent or if their employer is concerned that the employee may expose others to risk. The leave will be retroactive to Jan. 27.
During the public health emergency, people can take the job-protected leave for as long as the circumstance requires them to be away from work, says the government.
While on job-protected leave related to the COVID-19 crisis, workers may also be eligible for financial support through expanded employment insurance (EI) benefits through the federal government.
“These proactive changes ensure that no one will lose their jobs for prioritizing their health and safety, or the health and safety of their loved ones and their community,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general. “Given these extraordinary times, we are ensuring that the legislation provides protections for those impacted by COVID-19.”
The province is also providing up to three days of unpaid, job-protected leaves of absence per year for employees who cannot work due to illness or injury. This is a permanent change to the Employment Standards Act that brings BC in line with all other provinces in Canada.
“This crisis has highlighted the importance of having permanent job-protected illness or injury leave in place for people in this province,” says Harry Bains, minister of labour. “We’re stepping up and bringing in this new leave to support workers over the long term, beyond this crisis.”