Requirements for All Leaves
Several job-protected employment leaves are available, including:
- family (maternity, adoption, parental, bereavement, and crime-related child death or crime related child disappearance leaves);
- service (reserve force, nomination/election and candidate/public office, and citizenship ceremony leaves);
- medical (organ donation, critically ill child care, critically ill adult care, and compassionate care);
- interpersonal violence leave;
- public health emergency leave.
Other than five days of interpersonal violence leave, employers are not required to pay for job-protected leaves. However, an employee who wishes to take a leave may be eligible for Employment Insurance. Contact Service Canada toll-free at 1-800-206-7218 for more information.
For the majority of leaves, any employee who is currently employed, and has been employed for more than 13 consecutive weeks by the same employer before the day the leave is to begin, qualifies for leave.
Employees do not have to have worked for an employer for a minimum amount of time in order to take public health emergency leave.
An employee who wishes to take any of the following leaves must provide the employer with at least four weeks' written notice:
- maternity, adoption or parental leave;
- organ donation leave;
- reserve force service leave (for regular deployment); or
- nomination/election and candidate/public office leave.
The notice must state:
- the date the employee intends to start their leave; and
- the date the employee intends to return to work.
An employee taking a leave longer than 60 days must provide the employer with at least four weeks' written notice before returning to work. This written notice must be given to the employer before the leave expires. The employer is not required to take the employee back until this notice is received.
The obligation to provide four weeks' written notice before taking leave does not apply:
- to bereavement leave, compassionate care leave, critically ill child care leave, critically ill adult care leave, crime-related child death or disappearance leave,
- interpersonal violence leave, public health emergency leave and citizenship ceremony leave; or
- if the date of commencement of the employment leave or the date of return to work from the employment leave is not known and cannot be reasonably known by the employee (such as an emergency deployment of reservists).
An employee who takes a leave of 60 days or less does not have to provide the employer with four weeks' written notice before returning to work.
An employee who is not required to provide four weeks' written notice must provide notice as far as possible in advance of the start and end of the leave.
3. Medical Certificates
If an employment leave involves a medical issue, the employer has a right to ask for the employee to provide a medical certificate from a duly qualified medical practitioner as to the reason for the leave or the extension of the leave.
Employees taking public health emergency leave do not need to provide a medical certificate.
4. Vacation and Benefits
Length of Service and Rights of Recall
An employee continues to accrue seniority, vacation, service, and rights of recall while on an employment leave or a combination of employment leaves to a maximum of 78 weeks.
An employee on leave continues to accrue vacation seniority, to a maximum of 78 weeks. After returning from leave, an employee gets the same vacation entitlements that the employee would have received if the leave had not been taken. Vacation pay may be lower since it is a percentage of the previous year's earnings.
For example, an employee with nine years of service has three weeks of vacation entitlements. If the employee takes 78 weeks of maternity and parental leave, the employee would have more than 10 years of seniority upon return to work. The employee would then be eligible for four weeks of vacation.
Participation in Benefit Plans While on Leave
An employer who provides benefit plans to employees must offer to continue to provide those benefits to an employee who is on leave, or a combination of leaves. The employee may be required to pay premiums to maintain benefits.
An employee is entitled to participate in a benefit plan for the duration of the leave. The time limit for an employee to participate in a benefit plan will depend on the prescribed amount for the specific leave.
Benefit plans that an employee can continue participating in while on leave include medical, dental, disability or life insurance, accidental death or dismemberment, a registered retirement savings plan, and other pension plans.
5. Returning from Leave
An employee returning from leave of 60 days or less must be re-employed in the same job they had before the leave. An employee returning from a leave longer than 60 days can be reinstated into a comparable job with no loss in pay or benefits.
6. Discriminatory Action
Section 2-8 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act prohibits an employer from taking discriminatory action against an employee because the employee:
- is pregnant or is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy;
- has applied for or taken an employment leave or is otherwise absent from the workplace as allowed by the legislation; or
- has requested a modification of the employee's duties or a reassignment to other duties because of a disability, including a temporary disability due to pregnancy.
Employers who terminate an employee in one of these protected categories must show that the termination was not related to the leave. For example:
- the project that the employee was employed to work on is completed and all employees are laid off;
- the employer can show just cause for dismissal; or
- the employer can show that the employee voluntarily resigned.