New Canada Labour Code Paid Medical Leave Provisions

New Canada Labour Code Paid Medical Leave Provisions

What are the new paid medical leave entitlements under the Canada Labour Code?

Since December 1, 2022, significant changes have been introduced to the Canada Labour Code (CLC), impacting federally regulated employers’ obligations towards their employees regarding paid medical leave.

Under the new provisions of the CLC, federally regulated employers are mandated to provide their employees with up to 10 days of annual paid medical leave. This entitlement covers various situations, including:

– Personal injury or illness

– Organ or tissue donation

– Medical appointments during working hours

– Quarantine

Importantly, employees taking paid time off for medical reasons should be paid at their regular rate during their regular working hours.

How does the Canada Labour Code address existing employer-paid sick leave benefits?

To understand the interplay between the CLC entitlement and pre-existing paid sick leave benefits, Employment and Social Development Canada published an interpretation bulletin, known as IPG-119. This bulletin clarifies that the CLC entitlement serves as a minimum standard. Employers are not required to provide additional CLC sick days if their existing sick leave practices offers more favourable terms to employees.  Employers must either meet or exceed the minimum standard set by the CLC.

The case of United Steelworkers Local 14193 v. Cameco Fuel Manufacturing Inc. (“Cameco“) clarified further. Arbitrator Nyman, referencing IPG-119, concluded that the employer’s practice of deducting CLC sick days under certain circumstances did not breach the CLC.  More specifically, the employer allowed employees to use CLC sick days during the first three days of a medical absence. However, one CLC sick day was deducted for each day an employee received 100% wage indemnity under the employer’s short-term disability plan (the “STD Plan”).

The union argued that the CLC entitlement and the STD Plan served different purposes, advocating that the employees ought to benefit from both. Arbitrator Nyman disagreed, determining that the employer’s practice provided employees with a more favourable benefit than the CLC entitlement alone.

Is it possible for employers to combine CLC sick days with other paid sick leave benefits?

Federally-regulated employers should therefore first determine whether the CLC entitlement and the employer’s existing sick leave benefit serve the same substantive purpose – the purposes do not have to be identical.  Second, they do not need to provide CLC sick days if their existing sick leave practices offer a more favourable benefit to employees. Conversely, less favourable practices must be enhanced to meet the CLC’s minimum standard.  Third, employers can combine CLC sick days with other paid sick leave benefits, provided the combined practice meets the minimum standard.

Understanding the new provisions of the Canada Labour Code is crucial for federally regulated employers to ensure compliance and fairness in providing paid medical leave to their employees. Before determining their obligations under the CLC, employers should carefully review and assess their existing paid sick leave practices to ensure they meet or exceed the minimum standard set by the CLC.

How Can Individuals Contact Whitten & Lublin for Legal Consultation?

If you have questions or concerns regarding the new Canada Labour Code provisions for paid medical leave, or if you’re a federally regulated employer seeking legal advice, Whitten & Lublin is here to help. Reach out to us for a consultation online or call us at (416) 640-2667 today to discuss your situation and explore the best course of action.

Author – Carson Healey