Memo: Compassionate Care Leave and Benefits – Federal Changes Effective Jan. 1, 2016 and What This Means for BC (March 3, 2016)

Date: March 3, 2016
From: Michelle Berner, Director, Total Compensation, Human Resources
To: Deans, Directors, Department Heads and Administrators
CC: HR Advisory Services and Faculty Relations
Subject: Compassionate Care Leave and Benefits – Federal Changes Effective Jan. 1, 2016 and What This Means for British Columbia

Compassionate Care leave is a federal/provincial leave entitlement that provides job-protected unpaid leave for an employee to provide care or support to an immediate family member if a medical practitioner issues a certificate stating that their family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.

Employees on Compassionate Care leave may apply for Compassionate Care Employment Insurance (EI) benefits through Employment & Social Development Canada (ESDC). EI eligibility criteria must be met and these benefits are administered by Service Canada.

The purpose of this memo is to explain federal changes to Compassionate Care leave and benefits and what this means for British Columbia.

Federal Changes

The Canadian Government announced the following changes to Compassionate Care leave and benefits effective Jan. 1, 2016:

  • Up to 28 weeks (increase from eight weeks) of unpaid Compassionate Care leave; and
  • Up to 26 weeks (increase from six weeks) of Compassionate Care EI benefits after a two-week waiting period is served.

What this means for British Columbia

In BC, job-protected unpaid compassionate leave falls under the jurisdiction of the BC Employment Standards Act (ESA). Since the BC Government has not yet responded with corresponding legislation to match the federal standard for job-protected unpaid Compassionate Care leave, this leave remains at eight weeks.

However, employees who meet EI eligibility criteria will receive Compassionate Care EI benefits for 26 weeks after a two-week waiting period is served (because EI legislation is determined federally, and not under BC ESA), and are able to serve the entire period as an unpaid leave.

The following table illustrates how the Compassionate Care leave and Compassionate Care EI benefits will work effective January 3, 2016:

Leave EI Benefits UBC Benefits
First eight weeks of leave is unpaid Compassionate Care (job-protected) Up to 26 weeks of EI benefits are payable if employee meets EI eligibility criteria, after a two-week waiting period is served. University continues to pay the employer cost of benefits and pension if the employee continues their share.
After eight weeks, any additional leave requested is unpaid General Leave or Personal Leave (not job-protected) Employee may continue their benefits and pension provided they pay the full cost (employee plus employer share)*

(*With the exception of MSP and dental premiums for CUPE 2950 members in their first month of unpaid leave.)

Further information on Compassionate Care leave and EI Compassionate Care benefits is available by visiting, and clicking on your Employee Group. Any questions regarding eligibility for Compassionate Care EI Benefits are best answered by calling Service Canada directly at 1-800-206-7218.

Should you have any questions about Compassionate Care Leave, please contact your HR Advisor or Associate for staff or Faculty Relations for faculty.

We will continue to monitor for changes to the BC ESA for Compassionate Care leave and will let you know of any developments.

Thank you.