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Human resource service knowledge article

New Year, New Legislation: Alberta Leaves of Absence

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HR Governance

In 2017, proposed changes to the Alberta Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code were introduced as Bill 17: The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act. The Act was passed on June 5, 2017 and received Royal Assent on June 7. This means, it’s officially law.

Effective January 1, 2018, this new legislation makes some significant changes to rules and regulations in the Alberta workplace. Some of the most sweeping changes are to the Province’s laws regarding Leaves of Absence. It will require employers to pay more attention to tracking Time & Attendance, and building administrative mechanisms to allow Time Off Requests under each type of employee leave.

Leave Eligibility

For most Leaves of Absence, employees will be required to complete at least 90 days of employment before becoming eligible to take time off. Employers must grant leave to eligible employees and give them their same, or equivalent, job back after they return to work. It is recommended that employers double check eligibility criteria during the approval stage before granting or denying Time Off Requests.

Types of Leave

Below is an overview of some types of leave that have been newly introduced or significantly changed. This list is not by any means exhaustive; Honiva Consulting Ltd. can help you understand the details of various Leaves of Absence, track time-off balances and put into place process flows to capture the information. By doing so, you are better able to monitor staffing levels to ensure there are sufficient workers available at all times, and oversee your financial obligations to pay out certain leaves.

Some types of leave include:

• Compassionate Care Leave (unpaid)

Period: up to 27 weeks Eligibility: The employee intends to care for or provide support to a gravely ill family member; the family member is at significant risk of dying within 26 weeks, as indicated by a medical certificate. Employees may be eligible for EI Benefits during the Compassionate Care Leave.

• Critical Illness of an Adult Family Member (unpaid)

Period: up to 16 weeks Eligibility: The employee intends to take time off to care for an ill or injured adult family member. Leave can be extended, if needed.

• Critical Illness of a child (unpaid)

Period: up to 36 weeks Eligibility: The employee intends to take time off to care for an ill or injured child. Leave can be extended, if needed.

• Maternity Leave (unpaid)

Period: up from 15 weeks to 16 weeks, to account for the federal one week waiting period for EI benefits. Eligibility: Birth of a child, or a pregnancy that ends other than in a live birth within 16 weeks of the due date. Only birth mothers are eligible for maternity leave.

• Parental Leave (unpaid)

Period: Up to 37 consecutive weeks taken by either parent, or shared between them Eligibility: Birth or adoption of a child

• Citizenship Ceremony Leave (unpaid)

Period: One half day Eligibility: Attending a citizenship ceremony to receive a Certificate of Citizenship

There are several other types of leave that are not covered in this list; in addition, Leaves of Absence are subject to regulations surrounding the notice required to be given to the employer prior to commencing leave, notice to return, vacation time and intentions to terminate employment following a Leave of Absence.

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