10 paid sick days for federally regulated employees

Starting in 2023, federally regulated businesses are required to provide workers, who have been employed with them for 30 days or more, with up to 10 days of medical leave with pay each year. The below frequently asked questions provide clarity on the minimum requirement, but employers can always be more generous with their medical leave policies. We encourage employers to consider how these new entitlements will interact with their existing leave programs & collective agreements.

Which employers are affected?

All federally regulated businesses that are regulated by the Canada Labour Code will need to implement these 10 days of medical leave with pay, no matter the size of the business or the number of employees. Employers who are unsure if they are federally regulated can get clarity by:

Which employees are eligible?

All paid employees who have been continuously employed with you for 30 days or more. This includes full-time, part-time, casual, fixed-term contract employees, and even longshore workers with multiple employers. Only unpaid student interns are not eligible for medical leave with pay, instead, they are entitled to unpaid medical leave.

How do employees earn paid medical leave?

As of December 1, 2022, employees can start to accrue up to a maximum of 10 days of medical leave with pay per year. These days will be earned gradually while continuously employed with the same employer in the following way:

30-day qualifying period

3 days will be earned after the employee completes a 30-day qualifying period of continuous employment. For example, employees hired:
  • before December 1, 2022, will automatically start their 30-day qualifying period on December 1st, 2022, and earn 3 days of paid medical leave on December 31st, 2022.
  • after December 1, 2022, will start their 30-day qualifying period on their first day of work and earn 3 days of paid medical leave after continuing to work for the same employer for 30 calendar days.

Accrual throughout the year

After completing the initial 30-day qualifying period, employees can continue to earn 1 day of paid medical leave after completing another month of continuous employment. This day is earned on the first day of the following month (e.g., after working through the month of January 2023, 1 day of medical paid leave will be earned on February 1st, 2023).

Carrying over from the previous year

Any unused accrued medical leave in one year will be credited to the beginning of the following year; however, employees may not accrue more than a maximum of 10 days of paid medical leave per year. For example, an employee who has never taken any paid medical leave in 2023, could have their 10 days available at the start of 2024, but would not be able to accrue any more days in the year 2024. Should they take the 10 paid medical leave days at the start of 2024, they would not be able to accrue more days in 2024.

When can employees take paid medical leave?

Employees can decide to take accrued paid medical leave in increments, as required, to a maximum of 10 days in a year. Employers may require that employees take periods of leave of not less than 1 day, but they can allow partial days if they wish. Employees can use these accrued days for days they are scheduled to work or are expected to be available for assigned work for any of the following reasons: 

  • Personal illness or injury of the employee
  • Organ or tissue donation from the employee
  • Medical appointments for the employee during working hours
  • Quarantine of the employee

Employees are encouraged to provide 4 weeks’ written notice, or written notice as soon as possible if there is a valid reason for not providing 4 weeks’ notice.  The employer may require an employee to provide a medical certificate from a health care practitioner if the employee takes 5 or more consecutive days of medical leave.

How to calculate an employee’s medical leave pay

If employees are not covered by a collective agreement:

  • The average of the employee’s daily earnings, exclusive of overtime hours, for the 20 days they have worked immediately before the first day of the period of paid leave.

If employees are covered by a collective agreement this calculation can be different, but must:

  • Relate specifically to medical leave with pay, or
  • Provide for a calculation method that encompasses all paid leaves

What will my businesses need to record?

Businesses will need to keep a record of the following for at least 3 years:

  • Dates of commencement and termination of the leave
  • Year of employment in respect of which the leave was earned
  • Number of days of leave carried over from the previous year
  • Copy of any written request for a medical certificate made by an employer
  • If requested, a copy of any medical certificate submitted by an employee

What if I don’t implement these sick leave days?

The government plans to take an educational approach to complaints raised on medical paid leave, but Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPS) will be given to non-compliant businesses. The fines will depend on the size of the business and the type of violation. The size of the businesses is determined by the employee count and annual gross revenues for the fiscal year before the violation has been issued. Micro businesses have fewer than five employees or less than $30,000 in annual gross revenues, small businesses have fewer than 100 employees or less than $5 million, and anything larger is considered a large business.  Examples of violations and penalties include:

  • Failure to keep records for 3 years
    • Micro business $250
    • Small business $500

  • Failure to provide Payments
    • Micro business $750
    • Small business $1,500

  • Failure to provide the medical leave
    • Micro business $1,500
    • Small business $3,000

Employee Earning Examples

Example 1 – Hired before Dec 1, 2022

Hélène has been continuously employed full-time with ABC Ltd. for two years.  On December 1st, 2022, she starts to accrue the new paid medical sick leave days. Thirty days later (December 31st, 2022) Hélène has earned 3 days of paid medical sick leave. After continuing to work through January 2023, she earns another paid medical leave day on February 1, 2023. If Hélène gets sick in March, she could take up to 4 days of paid medical leave, but if she does not use any of her paid medical leave, she can continue to accrue up to 10 days per year. 

Example 2 – Short term employee
Shawn has been hired to work for three weeks starting February 15, 2023. After his contract is done, he is again hired to work June 1st, 2023. As he doesn’t work for the company continuously for 30 days, he is not eligible for any paid medical leave. 

Example 3: Employee hired after Dec 1st, 2022

Emma starts working for Company XYZ on March 5, 2023, and is doing a great job, so they keep her on. Company XYZ uses a year of employment for both annual vacation and medical leave with pay calculation, which starts on April 1st, and ends on March 31st the following year.

Emma will earn:

  • 3 days of paid leave on April 4th (the day after completing her qualifying period of 30 days of continuous employment);
  • A 4th day on June 1st (the first day of the month after completing an additional month of continuous employment); and
  • An additional day on July 1st, August 1st, September 1st, October 1st, November 1st and December 1st (for a total of 10 days in the year of employment).