Alberta Extends COVID-19 Leave and Temporary Layoff Period

June 19, 2020

The Government of Alberta has introduced Bill 24, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 ("Bill-24") to validate the Employment Standards (COVID-19 Leave) Regulation ("COVID-19 Leave Regulation") and extend the temporary layoff period under the Employment Standards Code ("ESC") to 180 days for employees who are laid off due to COVID-19.

As daily COVID-19 cases continue to slowly increase in Alberta, the Government of Alberta introduced Bill 24 on June 18, 2020.

Bill 24 proposes to extend the temporary layoff period under the ESC with respect to an employee who is laid off for reasons related to COVID-19. In normal circumstances, an employee who is laid off for one or more periods exceeding 60 total days within a 120‑day period is deemed to have been terminated (unless certain exceptions apply). However, if Bill 24 passes and receives Royal Assent, effective June 18, 2020, employees who were laid off at that time or who are subsequently laid off for reasons related to COVID-19 will be deemed to have been terminated only after more than 180 consecutive days have passed.

Additionally, Bill 24 proposes to validate the COVID-19 Leave Regulation, which provides employees with 14 days of unpaid job-protected leave if they are forced to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to COVID-19. An April 6, 2020 temporary amendment to the COVID-19 Leave Regulation provided employees with unpaid leave for the time recommended or directed by the Chief Medical Officer to meet their responsibilities in relation to caring for a family member under quarantine or children affected by school and daycare closures due to COVID-19. However, this temporary amendment was set to expire 60 days after the Province’s state of emergency order lapsed on June 15, 2020. However, a June 17, 2020 temporary amendment will continue to allow employees to take unpaid leave for family and childcare obligations until August 14, 2021. However, the leave will be slightly different, allowing employees to take leave for as long as “necessary” to meet their responsibilities in relation to a family member quarantined due to COVID-19 or a child who is unable to attend school or child care services due to any recommendation or direction of the Chief Medical Officer in respect of COVID-19.

We will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates when they are available.

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