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Alberta Government Announces Paid Leave in Light of COVID-19

Alberta Government Announces Paid Leave in Light of COVID-19
March 16, 2020

The COVID-19 virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, has been drawing a global response from governments across the world and the Alberta government is no exception. On Friday, March 13, 2020, Premier Jason Kenney announced that there will be changes to Alberta's Employment Standards Code (Code) aimed at alleviating employees having to choose between "work and doing what is necessary to protect public health."
 
Specifically, the Code will be amended to provide a 14-day paid, job-protected leave if: (i) an employee is required to self-isolate; or (ii) an employee is sick or is caring for a loved one who has contracted COVID-19. Unlike other job protected leaves under the Code, employees will not have to be employed for 90 days or be required to provide a medical note to be eligible for this leave. The leave is intended to cover the 14-day self-isolation period required by Alberta’s chief medical officer for individuals returning from travel outside of Canada.
 
It is currently unclear where the financial responsibility for this paid leave will fall—the Alberta government, the federal government, by way of employment insurance or employers. The Alberta government has recognized that this amendment could unfairly burden employers and stated that "it is working towards a solution to address these challenges."
 
There have been no formal changes to the Code or its regulations to date, however, Albertans can expect to see changes in the coming days. This bulletin will be updated at that time to clarify the details of these impending legislative amendments.
 
For further information, please contact:
 
Birch Miller                  403-260-9613
Laura Dunnigan         403-260-9709
de Lobe Lederman    403-260-9798
Lindsey Knibbs           403-260-9724
 
or any other member of our Employment & Labour group.

Please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre to learn more about how COVID-19 may impact your business.