14 Days of Unpaid Leave for Employees Dealing with COVID-19: Alberta Government Clarifies Prior Announcement

March 18, 2020

On March 17, 2020, the Alberta Government adopted a new regulation to amend to the Employment Standards Code  which will provide employees with a 14-day job-protected leave if they are quarantined due to COVID-19.

The Alberta Government has now clarified that employees will be entitled to a 14-day leave that is unpaid if they are quarantined due to COVID-19.

An employee is considered to be “quarantined” if they are in any self-isolation or self-quarantine as a result of COVID-19, as may be recommended or directed by the Chief Medical Officer.

This retreats from a prior press release in which the Alberta Government stated that the leave would be paid and would be available for employees caring for family members.

The new regulation, Employment Standards (COVID-19) Regulation (the ”Regulation”) contains the following provisions:

  • all employees will be entitled to 14 days of unpaid leave if they are required to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to COVID-19 (this is extended from the prior requirements of a 5 day unpaid leave for personal health or family responsibilities);
  • employees that are required to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to COVID-19 will not have to provide a doctor’s note to support their absence from work;
  • the requirement that an employee be employed for 90 days before taking this leave is waived;
  • employees can still get 16 weeks of unpaid long-term illness and injury leave under s. 53.97 of the Employment Standards Code;
  • employees will not be required to provide their employer with a proposed intended date of return to work whether they have taken leave under the 14-day leave or the 16-week leave;
  • the Minister may extend the 14-day leave period if the Chief Medical Officer recommends doing so to enact further protectionary measures against COVID-19; and
  • the Regulation is dated effective March 5, 2020 which means that it will have a retroactive effect and apply to leaves taken since that date.

Employees may also be able to receive benefits through the recently announced federal Emergency Care Benefit.

As the situation continues to develop rapidly, employers should be aware not every employee may be entitled to an unpaid leave and should closely monitor information from the Alberta Government or seek guidance from experienced legal counsel. We will update readers as new information becomes available from the Alberta Government.

DISCLAIMER: This publication is intended to convey general information about legal issues and developments as of the indicated date. It does not constitute legal advice and must not be treated or relied on as such. Please read our full disclaimer at www.stikeman.com/legal-notice.

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