On Monday April 9, 2018, B.C.'s provincial government introduced Bill 6, which amends the B.C. Employment Standards Act to provide for new and extended leaves for employees. Bill 6 is a preliminary step in the government’s intended overhaul of the Employment Standards Act, with further amendments expected to be proposed in the future. The new and extended leaves are designed to bring B.C. in line with the leaves available in some other provinces and federally, and with recent changes to the employment insurance scheme.
Leaves under Employment Standards protect employees' job status and benefits while they are off work. The leaves are unpaid, although employees may be eligible to receive funds through employment insurance or their employer’s private top-up plan, if available.
B.C.'s pregnancy leave will now permit expectant mothers to start their leave 13 weeks prior to their expected due date, up from 11 weeks. The amendments also bring B.C.'s parental leave in line with the 18 month time period introduced into the Employment Insurance Act by the federal government. Birth mothers will be able to take up to 18 months total leave (pregnancy and parental) while non-birth and adoptive parents are eligible to take up to 15 months parental leave (within the 18 month period).
B.C.'s compassionate care leave, which provides leave to employees who need to care for a dying family member, will increase from eight weeks to 27 weeks within a 52-week period.
Additionally, the government is introducing two new leaves for parents facing tragic circumstances: the child death leave and the crime-related child disappearance leave. Parents of a child who dies under any circumstances prior to their 19th birthday are eligible for a leave of up to 104 weeks. Similarly, parents of a child that goes missing as a result of a crime are eligible for a leave of up to 52 weeks.
Employees will be able to take advantage of these leaves immediately upon the legislation coming into force upon Royal Assent, including those employees currently on, or anticipating, leave.
With thanks to articling student, Jason Harman for his assistance.
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