An employee who went back home in India in February and was due to return to work in March can’t return to Canada because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Do we have to keep paying her? Can we end her employment? We’re in BC.
No, you don’t have to pay her; but no, you can’t terminate, her either.
No, you can’t. In BC, as in most jurisdictions, employees who can’t reasonably travel to the province due to COVID-19 travel restrictions are deemed to be on COVID-19 leave and can’t be terminated for as long as they remain willing but unable to return. (BC, Employment Standards Act, Section 52.12(2)(e) and Section Sec. 52.12(3)). However, COVID-19 leave is unpaid.
The rule is the same in all other jurisdictions with the exceptions of those that either:
- Don’t provide for COVID-19 leave: Nova Scotia, Québec, Northwest Territories and Nunavut; and/or
- Do have COVID-19 leave but it doesn’t specifically apply to persons who can’t return to the jurisdiction as a result of travel restrictions: Alberta and Yukon.