Those caring for ill family members will now be allowed time off work to care for their loved ones.

The Government of Alberta announced Saturday that an eight-week unpaid Compassionate Care Leave will be available to protect the jobs of caregivers.

“No one’s job should be in jeopardy when they take time off work to care for a loved one,” Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Thomas Lukaszuk, wrote in a press release.

Edmonton-South West MLA, Matt Jeneroux, introduced the private member’s bill after his constituents told him it was a big concern.

“If something were to happen to one of them where they were terminally ill, with one bread winner in the house, and they've have to take a leave from their job and risk their employment.”

Jeneroux said the job security the bill provides will reduce stress for caregivers.

Something that Leslie Penny with the Alberta Palliative Care Association agreed with.

“It gives people security knowing that they can take a leave, get support financially and be there for their loved one as they are in the end of life.”

Executive director of the Alberta Caregivers Association said she was pleased with the announcement but saw it as a first step.

“It doesn’t go far enough in the sense that it is only for someone who is caring for someone who is gravely ill and often people don’t die in six months. They might be ill for a long time. So that is definitely one of the challenges,” Anna Mann explained.

Experts have told CTV News that up to 15,000 Albertans leave their job to care for a loved one each year.

A decision that has not been easy to make, Mann said.

“People are making the decision to leave work and looking for some sort of support and there is nothing there.

“This means that they are able to provide that care and still have that surety at the end that they have somewhere to go back to.”

Bill 203 was given Royal Assent on May 27, 2013 and the government said it will be in effect as of February 1, 2014.

The leave will be similar to parental leave, employees must have worked at least 52 weeks to be eligible.

Employees will be required to obtain a certificate indicating the condition of the family member, signed by the physician.

The eight weeks can be split but must be taken within a 26-week period.

Employment Insurance benefits may be available for up to six weeks for employees who qualify.

The program is similar to Compassionate Care benefits offered by the federal government. 

With files from Sarah Richter