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Leaves & Vacations

Compassionate Care Leave provisions added to BC Employment Standards Act

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

A bill that will amend the BC Employment Standards Act (the "Act") to provide for Compassionate Care Leave just passed Third Reading.

Specifically, the amendments will entitle employees to take up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care or support to an immediate family member who is terminally ill and is at risk of death within the next 26 weeks.

Most other Canadian jurisdictions already offer a similar leave (Alberta and the NWT being the exceptions). Although employers will not be required to pay an employee who is absent on this leave, the employee may be eligible to collect employment insurance benefits.

Currently, the Act provides employees with 4 types of leaves, all of them unpaid:

  • Pregnancy Leave (17 weeks, in most cases);
  • Parental Leave (from 35 to 37 weeks - depending in the circumstances - in most cases);
  • Family Responsibility Leave (5 days); and
  • Bereavement Leave (3 days).

The Act also offers protections to employees who are called for jury duty.

Maternity policy that would have been operative during working notice period relied on to reduce damages award

In Wilson v. UBS Securities Canada Inc., 2005 BCSC 563, a 37 year old trader with 14.5 years of service was awarded 12 months notice.

However, because the employee was pregnant when dismissed, the court ruled that the company's paid maternity leave policy must be considered when assessing the employee's damages. Pursuant to the maternity leave policy, the employee would have earned less income than if she had continued working. In this regard, the employee's damages were reduced.