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Nova Scotia relaunches Paid Sick Leave Program

Rick Dunlop and Will Wojcik

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Program (“Program”) is now open for applications. Employers can now be reimbursed for employees’ time off work to comply with public health requirements, including time off work to receive rapid tests, booster shots or self isolate. The Program applies retroactively to December 20, 2021 and finishes on March 31, 2022.

We reported on the original Paid Sick Leave Program back in May 2021. Details of the relaunch are outlined below and closely resemble the original Program.

How does the Program work?

Workers who cannot work remotely and miss less than 50% of their scheduled work time in a 1 week period due to COVID-19 related reasons may be eligible.

COVID-19 related reasons include:

  • self-isolating because of an exposure, close contact, or COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting to get a rapid or PCR test;
  • getting a rapid or PCR test;
  • self-isolating while waiting for the results; or
  • getting a vaccine or booster dose (time missed due to a reaction or symptoms from a vaccine or booster is not covered)

The Program complements the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit which compensates individuals who miss more than 50% of their work schedule due to COVID-19.

What time period does the Program cover?

Employee time off from December 20, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

How many sick days does the Program cover?

Four, and these sick days do not have to be taken consecutively.

How does the Program cover employer costs?

It is a reimbursement Program:

  • The eligible employer pays the employee for the time that they missed due to COVID-19 related reasons.
  • The employer then applies for reimbursement.

How much of the employer costs does the Program cover?

The province reimburses the employer based upon the employee’s current rate of pay up to a maximum of $20 per hour or $160 per day. The maximum total payment per employee is capped at $640.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Employers can apply for reimbursement if they:

  • work at a for-profit business or not-for-profit organization (federal, provincial, municipal governments and crown corporations are not eligible);
  • have a permanent physical location in Nova Scotia;
  • registered to do business in Nova Scotia;
  • are in good standing with the Government of Nova Scotia;
  • are paying Nova Scotia-based employees who do not qualify for paid sick leave under their employment agreement and are not receiving benefits from other COVID-19 programs.

Self-employed people can apply as well if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Does this mean that if the employee has the right to paid sick leave in their employment agreement or collective agreement, an employer is not eligible to be reimbursed for their sick leave under the Program?

Yes.

The government news release mentions, “employees who have other sick leave benefits that total 4 days, even if the time has already been taken,” are not eligible.  It is unclear how broadly the phrase “other sick leave benefits” is, but we expect that an employment agreement (or collective agreement) that provides four or more days of paid sick leave would qualify as providing other sick leave benefits.

When does an employer have to apply?

Within 30 days of when the employee was paid.

What information does the employer have to provide with its application?

The complete application instructions are posted online through the application portal, here. Employers are asked to set up a business account login and must provide the following information:

  • employee pay information;
  • employee schedules; and
  • attendance documentation.

Misstated information or applications will have to be paid back.

Please contact our team if you have any questions regarding the Program.


This client update is provided for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about the above, please contact a member of our Labour and Employment group.

 

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