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August 2019

Canada Labour Code reform: significant changes to leaves of absence

The Canada Labour Code (CLC) provides for various reasons why employees working for federally regulated entities may be absent from work.

Rules are established by the CLC as to the participation in plans providing pension, health and disability benefits for the following leaves of absence:

  • maternity leave (or related to maternity)
  • parental leave
  • compassionate care leave
  • leave related to critical illness
  • leave related to death or disappearance
  • sick leave
  • work-related illness and injury leave

The rules that apply are as follows:

  • Where contributions are required from an employee in order to be entitled to these benefits, the employee is responsible for and must, within a reasonable time, pay those contributions for the period of the leave of absence unless, before taking leave or within a reasonable time thereafter, the employee notifies the employer of his or her intention to discontinue contributions during that period.
  • During the leave of absence, an employer who pays contributions so that employees may be entitled to benefits must continue to pay those contributions in at least the same proportion as if the employee were not absent, unless the employee does not pay the employee’s contributions within a reasonable time; and
  • Failure to pay contributions mentioned in the two previous points means employment shall be deemed to be continuous, but the period of absence shall not be taken into account for the purposes of calculating these benefits.

However, after measures taken in the 2017 and 2018 budgets received Royal Assent, the CLC provides for new leaves of absence covered by the rules mentioned above or extends the maximum duration of some pre-existing leaves.

To help you identify the main changes conducted by the CLC, we have prepared a table comparing the previous version of the CLC with its modified version. This table presents:

  • The length of continuous employment required to be entitled to the main leaves;
  • The maximum duration of the leaves of absence; and
  • Information regarding the effective date of the amendments.

For help with applying these rules, contact our legal experts.

Since no changes were made to work-related illness and injury leave of absence, we did not address this leave in the table. To learn more, consult section 239.1 of the CLC.

Unless otherwise indicated, the leaves shown in the table refer to periods of unpaid absences.

This table does not reflect all rules applicable to the main leaves of absence. It summarizes the main terms and conditions (period of continuous employment required and duration of leave) related to participation in the pension, health and disability insurance plans during these leaves.