New Changes to BC Employment Standards Act for COVID-19 and Beyond

Updated April 1, 2021

The Government of BC has amended the Employment Standards Act to allow new, unlimited COVID-19 leaves of absence and to create a permanent employee right to temporary medical leave.

New – Unpaid, Job-Protected Leave for Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine
Employers are required to provide both full-time and part-time employees unpaid, job-protected leave from their employment in order to get the COVID-19 vaccine themselves, or to take a dependent family member to get the vaccine.

General COVID-19 Unpaid, Job-Protected Leave
In response to COVID-19, a new unpaid, job-protected leave has been established for employees unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19. Employees can take this leave for as long as they need it without putting their job at risk. This means workers who are ill, need to self-isolate, need to care for their child or other dependent, or whose employer is concerned that the employee may expose others to risk, will be able to take leave without putting their job at risk. Once it is no longer needed, this leave will be removed from the Employment Standards Act.

New 3 Days of Illness or Injury Leave Entitlement 
Recent changes also provide for up to three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury. This is a permanent change to the act and will remain a right of employees going forward.

For information on how to handle leaves and absences, consult this Government of BC website