New leave of absence available to employees in Manitoba unable to work due to COVID-19 pandemic

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Article2020 | 04 | 16

New leave of absence available to employees in Manitoba unable to work due to COVID-19 pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Employment Standards Code (the “Code”) has been amended to introduce a new, unpaid public health emergency leave for employees in Manitoba whose ability to work is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, employees are entitled to this new leave if, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, they cannot perform their work because:

(a) the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment;

(b) the employee, as a result of information or directions issued or provided by a health officer, health professional, Health Links-Info Santé, the Government of Manitoba or the Government of Canada,

(i)       is required to quarantine or isolate themselves, within the meaning of The Public Health Act, or

(ii)       is subject to self-isolation or any other measure that results in their inability to work;

(c) the employer, due to the employer’s concern about the employee’s exposure to others, has directed the employee not to work;

(d) the employee is providing care or support to a family member, as defined in section 59.2 of the Code, including care or support needed to be provided as a result of the closure of a school or premises where child care is provided;[1]

(e) the employee is directly affected by travel restrictions and cannot reasonably be expected to travel to their workplace;

(f) the employee is subject to an order made under The Public Health Act; or

(g) the employee is acting in accordance with an order made under The Emergency Measures Act.

The leave may continue for as long as the employee is entitled to it, ending once none of the above-noted circumstances apply to the employee.  These latest amendments also allow for the continuation of the leave even after the leave itself is repealed from the Code, so long as a certain conditions are met.

While employers are allowed to ask employees for reasonable verification of the necessity of the leave as soon as practicable, employers cannot ask for or require employees to provide a certificate from a health professional or health officer as part of any such verification process.

If particular conditions are met, employees may also be entitled to this new leave retroactively for the period from March 1, 2020.

The Code amendments also temporarily prohibit employers from requesting or requiring employees to provide a physician’s certificate or a medical certificate in relation to an employee taking or being eligible for other leaves in the Code, including the new public health emergency leave.

Please contact a member of Taylor McCaffrey LLP’s labour and employment law team for answers to specific questions and/or advice.

[1] As per section 59.2 of the Code, “family member”, in relation to an employee, means (a) a spouse or common-law partner of the employee; (b) a child of the employee or a child of the employee’s spouse or common-law partner; (c) a parent of the employee or a spouse or common-law partner of the parent; and (d) any other person who is a member of a class of persons prescribed in the regulations for the purpose of this definition.

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Peter Mueller
Peter Mueller