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Working Wise: Leaves Employment Standards

Dear Working Wise,

I may need to take some time away from work to care for a family member and I'm wondering if the changes to Alberta's Employment Standards might make it easier for me?
Signed, Doting Daughter

January 23, 2018

Dear Doting,

The Government of Alberta has updated the Employment Standards Code to support family-friendly workplaces and align the minimum employment standards with the rest of Canada.

Our workplaces have changed a lot since the code was last updated in 1988. Government decided on these changes after consulting with employers, labour organizations and nearly 5,000 Albertans.

You can read a summary of changes that took effect Jan. 1, 2018 here.

These changes include adding new types of unpaid leaves and expanding eligibility for leaves. 


New unpaid job-protected leaves:

  • Personal and Family Responsibility Leave– up to five days per year for personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member, including personal emergencies and caregiving of children. No medical certificate will be required.
  • Long-Term Illness and Injury Leave– up to 16 weeks per year for long-term personal sickness or injury. A medical certificate will be required.
  • Bereavement Leave– up to three days per year for bereavement of a family member.
  • Domestic Violence Leave– up to 10 days per year for employees addressing a situation of domestic violence.
  • Citizenship Ceremony Leave– up to a half-day for employees attending their own citizenship ceremony.
  • Critical Illness of an Adult – up to 16 weeks. A certificate will be required.
  • Critical Illness of a Child– up to 36 weeks for parents of critically ill or injured children. A medical certificate will be required.
  • Death or Disappearance of a Child– up to 52 weeks for an employee whose child disappeared as a result of a crime, or up to 104 weeks if their child died as a result of a crime.

Compassionate Care Leave changes:

  • Have been extended from eight weeks to 27 weeks.
  • Employees no longer have to be the primary caregiver to access the leave.
  • Leave is available for multiple weekly installments instead of just two.
  • Employees only have to provide one week of notice of their planned return to work date instead of two weeks.

Maternity/parental leave:

  • Is extended from 15 to 16 weeks to account for the mandatory one-week waiting period for federal Employment Insurance benefits.
  • An employee may only be terminated during the notice/entitlement period if the business is closed or suspended.
  • An employee whose pregnancy terminates within 16 weeks of the due date will still be eligible for unpaid maternity leave.
  • Parental leave has been increased to 62 weeks to align with recent changes to federal Employment Insurance benefits

For a complete list of changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code that took effect January 1, 2018, go to the Employment Standards website.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ©iStockphoto\francisblack

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