New Leaves of Absence for Ontario and Alberta Employees

THIS POST HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY GUEST AUTHOR BARRY W. BUSSEY, VP-LEGAL AFFAIRS, CCCC.

ONTARIO

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “Act”) was amended on April 29, 2014 to add three new leaves of absence effective October 29, 2014: family caregiver leave, critically ill child care leave, and crime-related child death or disappearance leave.

Family Caregiver Leave

Up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave is available for employees to provide care or support to a family member with a serious medical condition.

• “Family member” includes “a relative who is dependent on the employee for care and assistance.”

• A qualified health practitioner must issue a certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition. “Serious medical condition” is not defined, but it “may include a condition that is chronic or episodic.” If requested, the employee shall provide a copy of this certificate to the employer.

• No minimum period of service is required of the employee before accessing this leave.

• The employee is not required to take the leave in complete weeks.

• The employee must give the employer notice that he or she is taking the leave. In the case of an emergency, the employee may commence the leave before giving written notice, but he or she must advise the employer as soon as possible.

Critically Ill Child Care Leave

Up to 37 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave is available to employees to provide care to a critically ill child.

• Under this section, “‘child’ means a child, step-child, foster child or child who is under legal guardianship, and who is under 18 years of age . . . ‘critically ill child’ means a child whose baseline state of health has significantly changed and whose life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury.”

• The employee must have been employed for six consecutive months in order to be entitled to this leave.

• The employee must also have a certificate from a qualified health care practitioner that (a) states that the child is a critically ill child who requires the care or support of one or more parents; and (b) sets out the period during which the child requires the care or support.

• The employee must give the employer notice that he or she is taking the leave. As with the family caregiver leave, the employee is permitted to leave without notice in the event of an emergency, but is required to provide notice as soon as possible. The employee must also provide the employer with a written plan that indicates the weeks in which he or she will take the leave.

Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave

Up to 52 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave is available for employees who are parents of a missing child, and up to 104 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave is available for employees who are parents of a child who has died as a result of a crime.

• In order to be eligible for this leave, the employee must have been employed by his or her employer for six consecutive months. • The employee must give the employer notice that he or she is taking the leave. If the employee must commence the leave before giving written notice, he or she must provide notice as soon as possible. The employee must also provide the employer with a written plan that indicates the weeks in which he or she will take the leave. • If requested by the employer, the employee who takes a leave under this section must provide reasonable evidence of the circumstances for taking the leave. To read the legislation in detail, you may access it online: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail

ALBERTA

Compassionate Care Leave Ontario’s care leaves are similar to the Alberta Compassionate Care Leave that began on February 1, 2014. Albertans can take up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave from work to care for a gravely ill family member.

•Employees must have worked at least 52 weeks for their employer to be eligible for compassionate care leave.

•Employees must provide their employer with a certificate signed by the attending physician regarding the grave condition of the family member and his or her need for care.

•The eight-week leave may be split into two sections and must be taken within a 26-week period.

•Six weeks of Employment Insurance benefits are available to some employees for compassionate care. More information on the Alberta changes are found at: http://alberta.ca/release

Noteworthy is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.