Detailed info on temporary unpaid job-protected leave

Publish date: Sunday, April 19, 2020

GLP - Government Licensed Professionals

Temporary unpaid job-protected leave during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Employment Standards Act has introduced a temporary unpaid leave of absence related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This leave is retroactive to January 27, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in BC.

The Act sets out that an employee can take unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19 if they're unable to work for a number of reasons including the need to provide care to their minor child or a dependent adult who is their child or former foster child for a reason related to COVID-19, including a school, daycare or similar facility closure.

If you feel you are not able to work from home while looking after your children, you may be eligible for benefits from the federal government such as Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Members will need to apply for these online. Individual eligibility will vary.

Apply for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Employer-paid benefits
Benefits (extended health and dental, basic life insurance and LTD) will be maintained and paid for by the employer for the duration of the leave for those employees that are eligible.

Optional insurance plans
Optional insurance plans will continue if the employee completes an Option to Continue Employee Benefits While On Employment Standards Act Leave of Absence Without Pay and pays the required premiums. If you do not maintain these benefits, they will be considered waived and you will need to requalify and provide evidence of insurability if applicable.

Option to Continue Employee Benefits While on Employment Standards Act Leave of Absence Without Pay

It is generally a finically wise choice to contribute to your pension when you have the option to do so. The main reason is that if you contribute, then the employer contributes.

Members have a new option for buying service for a leave of absence. Effective May 1, 2020, the Public Service Pension Plan rules have been amended to allow members to continue making contributions during an Employment Standards Act–approved leave of absence. Contributions can be made during the leave or after the leave (buy back service) at the option of the member.

For more details see the Pension Board Communique April 6, 2020.

Employees will continue to accrue seniority during unpaid leave.

Leave Banks
Employees do not have to use their leave banks before accessing this unpaid leave.

End Date
Once this leave is no longer needed, it will be removed from the Employment Standards Act.

The COVID-19 unpaid leave under the Employment Standards Act should not be considered in isolation of the guidance in the BC Public Service COVID-19 Response FAQs.

In this section

The PEA was formed in 1974, by a group of professionals working in the public sector. The story goes that the founders of the union mortgaged their houses to fund negotiations of the union’s first collective agreement. 

Now, the PEA is BC’s union for professionals. We represent a wide range of professionals including lawyers, foresters, engineers, agrologists, teachers, veterinarians, fundraisers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, psychologists program managers, librarians and more.

Our union is led by the PEA Executive. They represent members from across the chapters of the PEA and set the overall vision and direction for our union.

Resources for our members

Navigating a union can sometime be a challenging process. Under this section of the website you will find resources to help you navigate the PEA. In the members section you'll find expense claim reimbursements, information on the PEA's scholarship and bursary program and our grants and donations program.

Collective bargaining and job action resources explain the process of collective bargaining and what to do in the unlikely event of job action. 

Local reps can also find resources to help them complete their job more effectively. This includes ways to welcome new members, how to take notes in investigation disciplinary meetings and more.

The heart of our union

The PEA is made up of nine chapters, or groups of members who either work for the same employer or are in the same field of work. Each chapter has an elected executive tasked with running the affairs of the chapter. Each chapter is entitled to representation at the PEA Executive, the governing body of the union. 

Our members work for a range of employers: the Province of BC, the University of Victoria, St. Margaret's School, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, the Oil and Gas Commission, the Law Society of BC, Legal Services Society, the Okangan Regional Library and health authorities across BC.

Professionals need unions now more then ever

Since the 1970’s, when the PEA was formed, our mission has been to ensure our members can work in safe, productive environments and receive fair and reasonable wages and benefits for the valuable work they do. We help individuals and groups of professional workers to understand the challenges they face in their workplaces and some of the solutions available to them. 

We work with potential members to become certified as a union and achieve the wages, benefits and respect they deserve. 

The Professional | Volume 48 Issue 1

The Professional is the PEA's award-winning, quarterly magazine for members.

The Spring 2022 issue takes a deep dive into the work of GLP members and their work during provincial emergencies.

Read the latest issue



The PEA was formed in 1974 to represent licensed professionals in the BC Public Service. Since then the organization has grown to include a wide range of professionals from across BC. Find our more about our governance, staff and strategic direction.

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