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Don’t Get Left Behind – New Leave Provisions of ESA will Require Policy Updates

As you read about here, 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.

These changes come into effect next month, on October 29, 2014.  This legislation amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) 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.

If, as an employer, you are not already familiar with the new rights and entitlements for employees related to these job-protected leaves of absence, it is imperative that you inform yourself over the next month: While most employers probably won’t experience one of these situations right away – and ideally never will, especially with respect to the latter two – the first request for any such leave may wreak havoc with an employer’s operation.  No one can plan for every contingency, but awareness of the entitlements provided will be key to effectively conducting business in the event of a lengthy absence of an employee, as well as in properly planning for that employee’s return.

If it has not already been done in conjunction with these imminent changes to the ESA, current sick leave and/or leave-of-absence policies should be reviewed to ensure employees are not being provided with duplicative leave entitlements, or inadvertently provided with additional leave in addition to the statutory provisions.

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.



Crawford Chondon & Partners LLP is committed to providing an inclusive workplace that embraces and respects differences.  We support and promote the ongoing development, implementation and maintenance of best practices and strategies to enhance and improve equality, diversity and inclusion within the Firm, in advising clients and in the greater community. Click to learn more about our Diversity and Inclusion 

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