Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Act today that could give working families extended and more flexible leave.
If approved by the legislature, the amendments would provide new, extended and more flexible maternity, parental and compassionate care leaves.
“These amendments are about supporting B.C. workers and extending compassion to families who face tragic circumstances, such as the loss or disappearance of a child, or the need to care for a dying family member,” said Bains.
“It will not erase the pain experienced during a personal or family crisis, but it can help ease the worry and stress over job security.”
Extra Two Weeks For Pregnant Mothers
The amendments will allow mothers to start their pregnancy leave, also known as maternity leave, as early as 13 weeks before the expected birth date, up from the current 11 weeks.
New parents will also have the option to take a longer unpaid parental leave to care for their new child – resulting in a total of up to 18 months of leave for birth mothers – while ensuring job protection.
These changes align B.C.’s leave provisions with federal employment insurance (EI) benefits.
Job-Protected Leave For Parents of Missing Children
Parents who face life’s most difficult circumstances, which may require extended absence from their jobs, will now have additional supports.
In addition to the extended maternity and parental leave amendments, Bains introduced a new unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 52 weeks to help if a worker’s child is missing as a result of a crime.
Currently, there is no provision in B.C. for parents to take a leave from work in the event their child is missing.
In addition, the Province will introduce a new unpaid leave providing job protection for parents dealing with the death of a child.
This leave will provide up to 104 weeks if a worker’s child under 19 years of age dies under any circumstances – a significant addition to the three days of unpaid “bereavement leave” currently available.
B.C. will join Ontario as the only provinces to offer job protection after a child’s death for any reason.
Compassionate Care Leave to Triple in Length
Further, the amendments to compassionate care leave will more than triple the length of leave, from eight weeks to 27 weeks. This is available to an employee who must care for a family member who is terminally ill.
The changes will ensure B.C.’s employment standards for these five special work absences are at least as good as those offered by other jurisdictions in Canada.
They will also enable eligible British Columbians to access full EI maternity, parental and compassionate care benefits without jeopardizing their job.