Written by: Tyler Wentzell
Every Canadian province and territory has created provisions in their employment standards statute granting periods of unpaid leave to members of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve. In my previous blog post, Reservist Leave: Drafting your Policy I identified some steps an employer should take in creating a plan for dealing with absences arising from Reservist leave. In this post, I will outline some considerations for drafting your company’s Reservist Leave Policy.
First, require that supervisors conduct an annual interview with any self-identified Reservists. As discussed in my previous blog post Reservist Leave: Drafting your Policy, this will help guide your planning for any future absences.
Second, each jurisdiction’s employment standards statute states that the employee applying for Reservist leave must provide proof of service when requested. Make it a requirement to receive proof of service as soon as practical in order to maintain proper records. Determine what type of proof of service you require. Consider asking for the Reservist’s joining instructions or for a letter from his or her commanding officer. Proof of service will normally contain the expected end date of the Leave, although this may be subject to change. Having this documentation early will help you make your plan for dealing with the employee’s absence and his or her return.
Third, where applicable, ensure that you have made provisions for re-training. Reservist leave may be very short, but it may also be relatively long. An overseas deployment, including pre-deployment training, can amount to nearly a year away from the job. Employment standards statutes generally require that employees be returned to a comparable position, but you should ensure that they receives all necessary training to safely assume it. Your Reservist Leave Policy should also articulate what retraining and additional supervision is required following absences of certain lengths, unless this is articulated elsewhere in your written workplace policies or practices.
Details concerning the Reservist leave entitlement vary somewhat by jurisdiction. Consequently, drafting a comprehensive Reservist Leave Policy becomes slightly more complicated when your business operates in multiple provinces. An employee in Alberta, for example, is entitled to 20 days of leave per year for training, whereas an employee in Saskatchewan is not entitled to any (click here to see a comparative table). Your company must make a decision: to comply with the requirements in each province in which it operates, or adopt a uniform policy that will comply with the statutory requirements of all provinces and territories in which your company operates.
By conducting the analysis outlined in my previous blog post Reservist Leave: Drafting your Policy, your company can determine what it can and cannot afford to do. Exceeding a province’s requirements is a decision that will be driven by each company’s capacity, as well as the company’s specific values and public relations considerations.
For more information on drafting your Reservist Leave Policy, contact any member of Heenan Blaikie’s Labour and Employment Group.
Tyler Wentzell is a summer student at Heenan Blaikie’s Toronto office. He joined the Canadian Army in 2002 as an Infantry Officer, serving with the Regular Forces until 2011. He continues to serve as a Reservist with the 48th Highlanders of Canada in Toronto.