- Employees are eligible for long-term illness and injury leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer.
- Eligible employees can take time off work without pay without risk of losing their job.
- Employers must grant leave to eligible employees and give them their same, or equivalent, job back when the employee returns to work.
- Employers aren’t required to pay wages or benefits during long-term illness and injury leave, unless stated in an employment contract or collective agreement.
- Employees on long-term illness and injury leave are considered to be continuously employed for the purposes of calculating years of service.
Employees are eligible for long-term illness and injury leave if they’ve been employed at least 90 days with the same employer.
Employees with less than 90 days of employment may still be granted leave. However, their employers aren’t required under employment standards legislation to grant them leave.
Length of leave
An eligible employee can take up to 16 weeks of long-term illness and injury leave each calendar year. The number of weeks of leave exceeds the Employment Insurance benefit length by one week in recognition of the waiting period. Employees should be aware of this before taking their leave.
The employee must provide a medical certificate to the employer that states the estimated duration of the leave. A medical certificate may be issued by a nurse practitioner or physician.
The medical certificate must be provided to the employer before the leave begins. If the employee is unable to do so, the certificate must be provided as soon as is reasonable.
Employees must give employers written notice as soon as is reasonable, which must include the estimated date of the employee’s return to work.
The employee must inform his or her employer of any change in the estimated date of returning to work.
Employees must provide at least 1 week’s written notice of the date they intend to return to work unless there is an agreement otherwise.
Employees must provide at least 2 weeks’ written notice of intention to terminate employment if they will not be returning to work after their leave ends.
Employers are not required to reinstate employees who fail to give notice or report to work on their next scheduled work day after their leave ends, unless the failure is due to unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances.
Vacation days and pay
Annual vacation earned prior to leave must be taken within 12 months after it was earned. If this time falls while the employee is on leave, the employee must:
- take the remaining vacation time at the end of their leave, or
- get approval from the employer to take the vacation time at a later date
Termination of employment
Employees can’t be terminated or laid off while on long-term illness and injury leave unless:
- the employer suspends or discontinues the business; in this case, the employer must reinstate the employee if the business starts up again within 52 weeks after their leave ends, or
- the reason for the termination is unrelated to the employee requesting or taking the leave
An employee who feels they have been improperly terminated can file an employment standards complaint.
Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
Employees may be eligible for long-term illness and injury benefits under the federal EI program.
It is important to be aware that the eligibility requirements for Employment Insurance benefits and eligibility to take a job-protected leave in Alberta may be different. For more information on Employment Insurance, contact Government of Canada.
How the law applies
Part 2, Division 7.5 of the Employment Standards Code sets out the rules for long-term critical illness and injury leave. The legislation entitles eligible employees to a period of leave without pay, at the end of which they must be reinstated in their same, or an equivalent, job.
Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.