THE EMPLOYERS' EDGE
Family Caregivers Bill-21 Passes Third and Final Reading in Ontario Legislature
Update: Bill-21 received Royal Assent on April 29, 2014. The amendments to the Employment Standards Act will take effect on October 29, 2014.
On April 29, 2014 Ontario’s provincial legislature voted in favour of proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The much-publicized Bill-21, also known as An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver, critically ill child care and crime-related child death or disappearance leaves of absence provides additional job-protected leaves of absence to accommodate employees with family caregiver responsibilities.
Once in effect, the Employment Standards Act will be amended to provide three additional forms of job-protected leaves of absence:
Family Caregiver Leave: Employees will be entitled to take up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave, in each calendar year, to provide care and support to a defined family member with a serious medical condition diagnosed by a qualified health practitioner. The entitlement will be up to eight weeks’ duration for each defined family member with a serious medical condition.
Critically Ill Child Care Leave: Employees who have been employed for at least six consecutive months will be entitled to take unpaid, job-protected leave, to provide care or support for a critically ill child, as defined in the Employment Insurance Act, upon issuance of a certificate by a qualified health practitioner stating that the child is critically ill. The leave will last as long as the time required for the child’s care as stated in the certificate, up to a maximum of 37 weeks, and will not replicate for multiple, critically ill children.
Crime-Related Child Death and Disappearance Leave: Employees who have been employed for at least six consecutive months will be entitled to up to 104 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave if their child, under 18 years of age, dies, and the likely cause of death is related to the commission of a crime. Employees who have been employed for at least six consecutive months will also be entitled to up to 52 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if their child, under 18 years of age, goes missing, and the likely cause of their disappearance is related to the commission of a crime. However, the employee will have neither entitlement if the employee is charged with the crime, or the child is a probable party to the crime.
In a news release published today, the Ministry of Labour noted that the amendments to the Employment Standards Act bring the provincial legislation in sync with the Federal Employment Insurance Act which provides benefits for employees who have to take leaves of absence from work in order to fulfill family caregiver obligations.
The amendments to the Employment Standards Act will come into effect on the day that is six months after the day that the Bill receives Royal Assent. Employers in Ontario will want to become familiar with new rights to job-protected leaves of absence for their employees, and will have to be prepared to make arrangements to effectively conduct their business in the, possibly lengthy, absence of certain employees. Employers should also start reviewing their current sick leave/leave of absence policies to ensure they will not be providing employees with duplicative leave entitlements, or inadvertently provide additional leave in addition to the statutory provisions, in the event that the bill is passed into law.
The lawyers at CCPartners are experienced in helping employers understand their legal obligations under the Employment Standards Act, and assisting clients to understand their options when faced with the absence of an employee.
Please Note: This blog has been prepared as an informational service for our clients and other interested parties. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, a complete statement of the law or opinion on any subject. Although we endeavour to ensure the accuracy of the content, no one should act upon the information provided without a thorough examination of the law after the facts of a specific situation are fully considered.