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Update: Alberta Government Confirms COVID-19 Unpaid Leave

By de Lobe Lederman
March 20, 2020

The Government of Alberta recently confirmed the changes it is implementing to Alberta's Employment Standards Code (Code) to provide job-protected leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please see our March 2020 Blakes Bulletin: Alberta Government Announces Paid Leave in Light of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Lieutenant Governor in Council issued the Employment Standards (COVID-19 Leave) Regulation (COVID-19 Regulation). The COVID-19 Regulation provides that an employee is entitled to 14 days of unpaid job-protected leave if he or she is under any self-isolation and self-quarantine as a result of COVID-19. The fact that the leave is unpaid is a reversal of the government’s previous communication that the leave would, in fact, be paid.

Notably, in order to be eligible for this leave, employees do not have to:

  • Have been employed by the same employer for 90 days;

  • Provide a medical certificate; or

  • Provide their employer with any notice, written or otherwise, of the date they intend to return to work.

The COVID-19 Regulation is retroactive to March 5, 2020, and allows for the statutorily job-protected leave to be extended beyond 14 days if the chief medical officer recommends that it is necessary to do so. The COVID-19 Regulation also does not impact an employee's entitlement to 16 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave in a calendar year for illness or injury, as is already contemplated in the Code.

While the leave provided for under the COVID-19 Regulation is unpaid, Albertans may be eligible for alternative means of income during this time through Employment Insurance, the federal Emergency Care Benefit Program or the federal Emergency Support Benefit.
As the situation concerning COVID-19 continues to develop, we anticipate that further amendments to provincial and federal legislation may be brought into force to combat the unprecedented effects associated with this global pandemic. We will continue to provide updates regarding those changes as they arise.
For further information, please contact:
Birch Miller                  403-260-9613
Laura Dunnigan          403-260-9709
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.