(Oct. 29/14) Three new job-protected leaves of absence are now in effect in Ontario. These leaves were created by Bill 21,Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2014, which took effect Oct. 29:
- Family Caregiver Leave – up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees to care for or support a family member with a serious medical condition.
- Critically Ill Child Care Leave – up to 37 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a critically ill child.
- Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave – unpaid, job-protected leave for parents whose child is missing or has died due to a crime.
These leaves of absence impact all Ontario employers.
The Ministry of Labour has developed a medical certificate document for family caregiver leave, critically ill child care leave, and/or family medical leave. (The latter has been in the Employment Standards Act (ESA) since 2004.)
Family medical leave
Bill 21 also establishes a rule that affects family medical leave, which is an existing, unpaid, job-protected leave to provide care or support to certain individuals who have a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within 26 weeks.
An employee can take up to eight weeks of family medical leave in a 26-week period. “Week” is defined as running from Sunday to Saturday. Employees will not always need or want to take an entire week off to provide care or support to the individual. As of Oct. 29, 2014, if an employee who takes family medical leave during a week stops providing care or support before the end of that week (i.e. before Saturday), the employee can remain on leave until the end of the week. He or she is allowed to return to work before the end of the week only if the employer agrees.