In the past few weeks, leisure travelers have been making the headlines. Since non-essential traveling is not recommended although not prohibited, many employers find themselves struggling with concerns about their employees traveling abroad. The question remains all the more relevant with spring break and the end of the reference year for taking annual leave are coming up and some employees could choose to leave Canada.

Here we provide some answers to your most frequently asked questions on the rights and obligations of employers regarding employees who choose to travel outside of Canada for personal and non-work-related reasons.

Restrictions on traveling outside of Canada. As the public authorities have not issued formal rules, the employer’s managerial rights do not extend to restricting the rights of an employee to travel for leisure outside of Canada.

Mandatory quarantine and its application. The Government of Canada has imposed a mandatory quarantine (isolation) of fourteen (14) days to all travelers coming back to Canada from abroad. The employer is not obligated in any way to pay the employee unable to work due to quarantine. The employee may use accrued vacation time, time in his paid leave bank or take a leave without pay in order to compensate this absence. The Government of Canada has also specified that employees who must isolate themselves due to leisure travel abroad are not eligible to government income support benefits.

Disclosure of leisure travels. The employer may ask that an employee disclose his intent to travel outside Canada in order to plan and manage its operations. The time of leave is extended due to the isolation period and this personal activity may have consequences on the effective return to work of the employee, the employer is therefore justified in requesting to be informed.

Negative test results for COVID-19. An employer can request from an employee returning from a trip abroad to provide a negative test result for COVID-19 or any other medical evidence in order to return to the workplace even after the quarantine period. It is the employer’s responsibility to protect other employees from the risks that may arise from the presence of an employee with symptoms.

This is not a legal opinion. For any assistance regarding the current situation, we invite you to communicate with one of our professionals from our labor and employment law team. For more information on our team or on the professionals available to assist you in your region, you can contact Mr Normand Drolet, lawyer (418-522-4580

Cain Lamarre is one of the largest labor and employment law firms in Quebec, both for the number and importance of the mandates given and for the number of professionals working specifically in this area of expertise.