Bill 6, the Employment Standards Amendment Act 2018, passed third reading in the BC Legislature and will come into force on royal assent. The bill amends the following statutory leaves under the Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”):
PREGNANCY LEAVE (Section 50)
– An expecting mother may now commence pregnancy leave up to 13 weeks prior to the expected birth date (up from 11 weeks).
– An employee who requests leave after giving birth to a child is now entitled to 17 weeks of leave (up from 6 weeks).
PARENTAL LEAVE (Section 51)
– A new mother is now entitled to up to 61 additional consecutive weeks of unpaid parental leave immediately after her 17-week pregnancy leave. Overall, a new mother is now entitled to up to 78 weeks in total (18 months).
– A non-birth parent and adopting parent is now be entitled to up to 62 consecutive weeks of unpaid parental leave (up from 37 weeks). This leave must begin within 78 weeks after the birth of the child or after the child is placed with the parent.
– These proposed amendments align BC’s parental leave benefits with the recent changes to the federal Employment Insurance Act which provide parents with up to 18 months of federal employment insurance benefits.
COMPASSIONATE CARE LEAVE (Section 52.1)
– Compassionate care leave is available to an employee who must care for a family member who is terminally ill and has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.
– Compassionate care leave will increase from 8 weeks to 27 weeks. It will remain an unpaid leave. The leave now ends on the last day of the week that is the earlier of the passing of the family member and 52 weeks from when the leave commenced (up from 26 weeks).
LEAVE RESPECTING DISAPPEARANCE OF CHILD (Section 52.3) – new addition
– This is a new addition to the legislation which provides a parent whose child (under 19 years old) disappears as a result of crime with up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave. This leave is not available for an employee who is charged with a crime resulting in the disappearance of his or her child. The leave must be taken as one unbroken, continuous period of time subject to employer consent otherwise.
– The unpaid leave may end on the earlier of the date on which the child is found dead; the date on which the circumstances indicate it is no longer probable that the child’s disappearance is a result of crime; the date the employee is charged with a crime resulting in the disappearance of his or her child; or 14 days after the child is found alive.
LEAVE RESPECTING DEATH OF CHILD (Section 52.4) – new addition
– The ESA’s general bereavement leave already entitled an employee to take up to 3 days of unpaid leave on the death of an immediate family member, which included the death of a child. This new leave specifically deals with the death of a child and allows an employee to take up to 104 weeks (2 years) of unpaid leave following the death of a child (under 19 years old), unless the employee is charged with a crime resulting in the death of his or her child. This leave must be taken as one unbroken, continuous period of time subject to employer consent otherwise.
Overall, these amendments, which broadly reflect legislative changes recently made in Ontario, provide BC employees with some of the most generous leave entitlements in the country.
If you have any question at all regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact Roper Greyell LLP. Individual lawyer contact information can be found at ropergreyell.com.
While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in this summary, you are urged to seek specific advice on matters of concern and not to rely solely on what is contained herein. The summary is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice