Leave and Absence

It’s said absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that’s rarely the case when you’re managing employees

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Monday, Jul 08, 2024

From time-to-time, your staff will need a day off. Absence effects all businesses, from multi-million dollar organizations to small family-run companies; absence management can prove to be tricky.

The average Canadian employee was absent from work for almost twelve days, in 2020 (Statistics Canada 2021). This sounds like a lot but it’s easier to manage than you’d think – through a consistent leave of absence policy.

In this guide we’ll explain the different types of leave, how to manage it, and the penalties for getting it wrong.

What is leave of absence?

A leave of absence is when one of your employees is absent from work. This can be classed as either authorized or unauthorized.

There are many different types of absence from work, including: * Vacation. * Sick leave. * Public holidays. * Maternity and paternity leave. * Medical appointments. * Bereavement leave.

How to manage employee absence

Having a successful absence management process is key for a number of reasons. It minimises multiple staff being absent at the same time; as well as checking how much vacation entitlement your staff have left.

It also ensures you pay your employees correctly following their authorized absences. This process should be made clear in an absence management policy.

Leave of absence policy

Your HR absence management policy will help you define the process your staff should follow.

Your policy should include the following: * Annual leave entitlements. * How to request time off. * Vacation and sick pay rules. * Who to report absences to, and how. * The process for return-to-work interviews. * How you’ll support staff returning to work. * Rules on office closure due to external factors (like extreme weather).

Include your leave policy in the employee handbook. And make staff aware of the process when they start.

You might need to be flexible on your process sometimes. This can help an employee to return to work after a bereavement or long-term sickness.

You can prevent any issues with absence management by regularly reviewing the policy. It’ll ensure your staff understand the entire process they need to follow when absent.

How much annual leave do you have to give your employees?

The law requires you to provide employees with two weeks annual leave for every year of employment. Failing to do so can result in a range of punishments outlined through Canada law.

You can be fined up to $10,000 depending on the number of violations in Ontario and British Columbia.

In Alberta, you can be fined up to $6000 for a level three offence.

Do you get paid if you contract Covid-19?

Legislations across Canada differ between the provinces. Make sure that your leave process matches the local legislation:

  • Alberta: Employees are entitled to 14 days of unpaid job-protected leave. This can be used if they’re self-isolating, have returned a positive test, or are caring for family. They may be eligible for government support.

  • British Columbia and Ontario: Staff are entitled to three days’ paid leave after a positive test, while waiting on test results, or if self-isolating. Paid leave is also available if they’re caring for family, or you’ve told them to stay at home.

Get help with your absence management today with BrightHR

It’s important that you get your leave and absence policy right. Staff have a statutory right to time-off, and not managing it correctly can leave you with too many people off at once, unhappy employees, or expensive fines to pay.

If you need assistance with your absence management, BrightHR has several tools which will make the whole process easier for you.

Our staff vacation planner and sick leave and lateness tools allow you to manage employee absences in seconds.

Contact us on 1 888 220 4924 or book a demo today.

Lucy Cobb

Employment Law Specialist

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