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Can an Employee be Terminated While on Leave?

Employment Law | February 11, 2021

There are many reasons that an employee can take a protected leave of absence from their job. Whether you need to take time away from work for some time or you have an employee requesting time off, it is important to know what kind of job-protected leaves of absence are available to BC employees and what rights employees can expect while away from the office. At Linley Welwood, we provide a variety of legal services related to employment law, and we are always happy to help clients understand their rights when it comes to taking a leave of absence from work.

Can an Employee be Fired While on Leave?

Although most of the different types of leaves that BC employment standards provide are unpaid, it is still important to know whether or not your job will still be there waiting for you when it is time for the period of leave to end. In BC, there are many different types of job-protected leaves, meaning that an employee cannot be terminated while away from work for one of the following leave types:

  • COVID-19 leave
  • Leave respecting domestic or sexual violence
  • Personal illness or injury leave
  • Maternity and parental leave
  • Family responsibility leave
  • Critical illness or injury leave
  • Compassionate care leave
  • Bereavement leave
  • Leave respecting the disappearance of a child
  • Leave respecting the death of a child
  • Reservists’ leave
  • Jury duty leave

Learn about the different types of job-protected leaves.

While there might be occasional case-specific instances wherein a job could be lost while taking one of these types of leave, the general rule is that an employee’s job or one like it will be there when the leave is over and their employer will help them make a smooth transition back into their workplace. Employers are not allowed to change job conditions or requirements during a protected leave of absence without the employee’s written consent. If the position that the employee filled no longer exists or an employer needs to terminate an employee who is returning from leave for a similar reason, then notice or pay in lieu of notice must be given according to the employee’s entitlements and his or her length of service.

Other Employee Rights During Job-Protected Leave

It is also important to note that, during a job-protected leave of absence, an employee is entitled to many of the same rights that they have while working their regularly scheduled days. The employee will continue to accrue vacation time and pension, and their length of service continues to increase as it would normally, affecting wage increases and benefit packages. Employees also maintain access to their benefits while on leave.

If you would like to find out more information about an employee’s rights while on leave or anything else pertaining to employment law, please contact the knowledgeable legal team at Linley Welwood so we can help answer your questions.


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