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Nova Scotia government proposes new unpaid leaves under the Labour Standards Code

The Nova Scotia government has tabled a new Bill which proposes to amend the Labour Standards Code to create new unpaid leaves for parents and guardians. If passed, Bill 3, the Support for Parents of Critically Ill or Abducted Children Act, will give employees the right to take the following unpaid leaves:

  • a leave of up to 37 weeks for a parent or guardian to take care of a critically ill or injured child;
  • a leave of up to 52 weeks for a parent or guardian whose child is missing due to a probable Criminal Code offence; and
  • a leave of up to 104 weeks for a parent or guardian whose child has died due to a probable Criminal Code offence.

The Labour Standards Code currently provides employees with a right to an unpaid compassionate care leave of eight weeks. During debates on Bill 3 in the House of Assembly, the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education indicated that the compassionate care leave may be too short when a parent or guardian has to cope with a child’s long-term serious illness or injury. He further stated that the 37-week leave is in line with changes to the federal Employment Insurance program which are to take effect in June. These EI changes will allow parents and guardians to receive up to 35 weeks of EI benefits when they need to take time off work to care for a child’s critical illness or injury. The proposed 37-week unpaid leave would include the 35 weeks of EI benefits and two weeks to take into account the standard waiting period for benefits to commence.

The Bill passed second reading and Committee of the Whole House has recommended that it proceed to third reading. If the Bill is passed by the House at third reading, it is not certain when the law will take effect.

Alison Bird
Lawyer, Cox & Palmer

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Alison J. Bird

Employment Lawyer at Cox & Palmer
Alison Bird is a lawyer practicing in Halifax with the Atlantic regional law firm, Cox & Palmer. Alison is growing her practice in the areas of labour & employment law and litigation. Alison is a frequent presenter on employment law topics and recently presented on the challenges being faced by employers dealing with changing demographics in the workplace. Read more
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