New leaves for Ontario workers as of October 29

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) has been amended to create three new job-protected leaves for workers in Ontario.  It is important that workers understand the purpose of the leaves and the requirements necessary to qualify to take each one.   Below is only a brief overview of each new leave followed by a link to the Ministry of Labour with more detailed information.

Family Caregiver Leave
Up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees to provide care or support to a family member with a serious medical condition.  This leave may be taken to provide care or support to family members “for whom a qualified health practitioner” has given a certificate confirming that there is a serious medical condition.  This is eight weeks per family member who qualify under the requirements.  A worker must provide written notice of the leave along with the medical documentation when requested by the employer.

Family Medical Leave already exists under the law but is different.  This leave allows a worker to take a leave only if the family member who has a serious medical condition “has a significant risk of death occuring within a period of 26 weeks”.

Critically Ill Childcare Leave
Up to 37 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees to provide care to a child (under 18 years old) who is critically ill.  Again, a “qualified health practitioner” must provide medical documentation that the child is critically ill and needs the support and care of a parent, foster or step-parent or legal guardian.  The practitioner must also specify the amount of time the child is expected to need care, which could be less than 37 weeks.  Only those workers who have been employed with their employer for at least six months are eligible to take the leave.

Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave
Up to 52 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a crime-related disappearance of a child and up to 104 weeks for a crime-related death of a child.  The child can be a foster or step-child or under the legal guardianship of the employee.  The child must be under 18 years of age for the worker to qualify.

To qualify, the worker must have been employed with their employer for at least six consecutive months.  In this instance, crime is defined as “any offence under Canada’s Criminal Code, with some exceptions”.   Employers do not have to pay wages when an employee is on a crime-related child death or disappearance leave.

Employees who take crime-related child death or disappearance leave are entitled to the same rights as employees who take pregnancy or parental leave. For example, an employer cannot threaten, fire or penalize in any other way an employee for taking, planning on taking, being eligible or being in a position to become eligible to take a crime-related child death or disappearance leave.

Visit the Ministry of Labour website for more detailed information.