New Standards Allow Compassionate Care Leave For Employees

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Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, has been amended to provide new minimum standards to allow employees to take compassionate care leave. On February 1, 2014, these amendments will take effect.

Employees will be eligible to take up to 8 weeks of leave in order to provide care or support to a seriously ill family member if the employee is the primary caregiver. In order to qualify the family member must be:

  • a spouse or common law partner of the employee,
  • a child of the employee or a child of the employee’s spouse or common law partner,
  • a parent of the employee or a spouse or common law partner of the parent, and
  • any other person who is a member of a class of persons designated in the regulations for the purpose of this definition.

Currently there are no other persons designated in the regulations for the purpose of the above definition.

The employee’s employment is protected during this leave and no employer may terminate the employment of, or lay off, an employee who has started compassionate care leave.

In order for employees to take compassionate care leave they must meet the following requirements:

  • The employee must be employed for at least 52 consecutive weeks with the employer;
  • The employee must produce a physician’s certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks and they require the care or support of one or more family members; and
  • The employee must be the “primary caregiver”, meaning that the employee has the primary responsibility for providing care or support to a seriously ill family member for that family.

Given these new requirements for compassionate care leave, we recommend that employers review their workplace policies to ensure compliance with the Employment Standards Code.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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