Expanded job-protected leaves proposed by BC Government

The B.C. government has introduced Bill 6, the Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2018, in the B.C. legislature. This Bill will expand job-protected leaves under the B.C. Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”) with respect to maternity leave, parental leave, and compassionate care leave. The proposed amendments to the ESA in Bill 6 are summarized in the following table:

Pregnancy 50 11 weeks 13 weeks
Parental 51 35 weeks 61 weeks Optional consecutive leave
(adoptive or non-pregnancy parents)
51 37 weeks 62 weeks Must be taken within 78 weeks of child's birth or adoption
Compassionate Care 52.1 8 weeks 27 weeks For employees that must care for a family member that is terminally ill and has significant risk of death within 26 weeks

Leave can be taken at any time within 52 week period, but can not exceed 27 weeks total
Crime-related child disappearance 52.3 None 52 weeks Single, continuous period or intermittent basis with employer’s consent

If child is found alive, parent entitled to remain on leave for 14 days
Death of a Child 52.4 None
(may be
for 3 days
under compassionate care)
104 weeks Single, continuous period or intermittent basis with employer’s consent

The proposed leaves remain unpaid under the provincial legislation, however, they bring the amount of job-protected leave time in alignment with recent changes to federal employment insurance benefits. While the Bill must still be reviewed and passed by the Legislative Assembly before it becomes law, employers should consider how proposed changes affect payment obligations to maintain medical, pension, or other benefits during the leave, as well as employer policies such as top-up pay.

Stefanie Ratjen