Manitoba recently joined a number of other provinces in implementing paid leave programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 7, 2021, Manitoba’s Premier announced that the province is launching a new Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave program to fill in the gaps between federal paid leave programming and provincial employment standards for paid sick leave.
This program will provide eligible employers with up to $600 per employee for up to five days of paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19. The days of paid leave do not need to be taken consecutively. Employees are entitled to take the leave for reasons related to COVID-19, including testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or providing care to a loved one who is in one of the previously-mentioned circumstances.
Employees are eligible to participate in this program if they reside in Manitoba and work and receive wages in Manitoba on a full or part-time basis. Employers who already provide employees with five or more paid sick leave days per year are not eligible, but employers that offer fewer than five days may apply to cover the difference.
The eligibility period will run from May 7, 2021 until at least September 25, 2021, as vaccination campaigns ramp up throughout the province.
In addition, on May 11, 2021, Manitoba proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Code that will allow employees to take a three-hour paid leave to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The proposed amendments would make it mandatory for an employer to allow employees up to three hours of paid leave each time the employee requires a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Employees who are required to travel for more than three hours to receive their vaccine or who suffer from vaccine side effects will be entitled to a longer unpaid leave.
Under the proposed amendments, employers can require employees to provide reasonable verification of the necessity of the leave, but cannot require the employee to present a physician’s note or medical certificate.
Manitoba is the fifth province to implement paid vaccine leave in response to the COVID-19 pandemic after Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. We will continue to provide you with updates as they arise.