Medical Leave for Federally Regulated Employeesteam
During the pandemic, the need for employee medical leave became much more common. Even in the wake of the pandemic, medical leaves are still more frequent than pre-pandemic levels. Many employees cannot afford to take significant, unpaid time off work to recover.
The Government of Canada has introduced legislation as of December 1, 2022, entitling federally regulated employees to medical leave with pay. The new legislation is meant to help federally regulated employees that require medical leave but cannot do so due to financial barriers.
Who is eligible for federal medical leave with pay? What can federally regulated employees do if their employer does not provide their medical leave entitlements? How can an employment and Human Rights lawyer help federally regulated employers and employees with navigating workplace medical leaves?
This article will answer these questions and provide a general overview of federal medical leave entitlements.
When Are Federally Regulated Employees Entitled to Medical Leave with Pay?
Federally regulated employees include those who work in federally regulated private industries or the federal public sector. They are subject to workplace standards outlined in the Canada Labour Code (the “CLC”) and its regulations. While there are listed federal sectors, there are scenarios where an employee may have to make legal arguments about whether they are provincially or federally regulated.
As of December 1, 2022, federally regulated employees can earn up to 10 days of medical leave with pay per year. Employees will earn their first 3 days of medical leave with pay under this regulation if they have been continuously employed at the same federal employer for 30 days (the “qualifying period”). Only unpaid interns are not entitled to paid medical leave under the CLC.
Once the qualifying period is complete, the federal employees may earn additional days of medical leave with pay for each month of continuous employment afterward. Employees may continue this process to earn up to a total of 10 days per year. Each new day of medical leave with pay earned will be available at the start of the following month and unused days may be credited to the employee at the start of the following year.
If a federal employee takes a medical leave with pay for 5 days or longer, then an employer may require a certificate issued by a healthcare practitioner verifying the reason for the medical leave. Employees must provide this certificate within 15 days of returning to work and it must certify the dates on which the employee was unable to work.
To use paid medical leave days as a federally regulated employee, the worker must have been scheduled to work or expected to be available to work on a day they could not attend.
What To Do If a Federally Regulated Employer Does Not Provide Paid Medical Leave
Employees should communicate with their employers as possible about their need to go on medical leave. They should generally put requests for paid medical leave in writing. If an employer refuses to pay for an employee’s medical leave, an employee should make a written complaint to their employer to provide an opportunity to correct the issue.
If an employer still refuses to address its failure to pay an employee for medical leave, the employee can seek legal recourse. What remedies and legal processes to go through will depend on the unique circumstances of each case.
Employees working in private federally regulated industries could pursue a federal labour complaint by Canada Industrial Relations Board (the “CIRB”) for unpaid wages. Unionized federally regulated employees should consult with their Union about filing a grievance.
Depending on the context, a federally regulated employee might also be able to argue that an employer’s refusal to pay for medical leave is discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act (the “Act”). In such cases, federally regulated employees have the option to seek their owed medical leave pay and potentially more damages by filing a Human Rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (“CHRC”).
If an employer retaliates against a federally regulated employee for trying to enforce their rights under the CLC or the Act, they may be liable for a variety of monetary and non-monetary remedies. So employers should be mindful that punishing or mistreating an employee seeking their medical leave entitlements after December 1, 2022, will only increase their legal risks.
While this may seem straightforward, deciding on the next steps for a workplace dispute is a fact-specific exercise. It is important to consult with employment and Human Rights lawyer as soon as possible for assistance.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Whether you’re a federally regulated employer or an employee, an employment and Human Rights lawyer can provide valuable advice about your legal obligations and available options. An employment and Human Rights lawyer can also help with determining legal strategy, negotiations, and navigating complicated legal proceedings.
Both employers and employees benefit from consulting with a lawyer sooner rather than later. Failure to do so on a timely basis can result in avoidable errors that could cost a party their case. An employment and Human Rights lawyer can help you maximize your chances of success for your case and minimize your liabilities.
Employers can benefit from a lawyer’s assistance with drafting policies and protocols accounting for the recent changes to the CLC respecting paid medical leave. Well-drafted and updated policies can help minimize instances where management and HR staff mistakenly refuse employees paid medical leave.
As of December 1, 2022, federally regulated employees are entitled to up to 10 days of paid medical leave per year. Federally regulated employees should provide their employer’s notice of their medical leave and send a written complaint if they believe they were wrongfully denied pay.
Where such a complaint is ineffective, an employee may seek compensation through a complaint through their Union, the CIRB, or the CHRC. An employment and Human Rights lawyer can help employers and employees with everything from straightforward legal advice to navigating complex legal proceedings.
If you are an employer or an employee with questions about your rights, obligations, and entitlements in a federally regulated workplace or otherwise need assistance with a workplace dispute, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to assist.