Ontario's new Minister of Labour, Yasir Naqvi, recently
tabled Bill 21, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to
Help Families), 2013. If passed, Bill 21 would
entitle provincially regulated Ontario employees to 3 new
job-protected leaves: Family Caregiver Leave; Critically Ill Child
Care Leave; and Crime-Related Child Death and Disappearance
Leave. As their names suggest, each of these leaves are
intended to assist employees by protecting their job security while
on leave due to family demands or crises.
As previously discussed, in 2011 the Government introduced
Bill 30, which contained amendments similar to the proposed Family
Caregiver Leave. However, Bill 30 fell victim to the prorogation of
the Ontario legislature in October 2012. The leaves of
absence set out in Bill 21 are in addition to Family Medical Leave,
available when an employee's family member has a serious
medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within
Family Caregiver Leave
Employees that need to provide care and support to a family
member with a serious medical condition would be entitled to up to
8 weeks of unpaid leave. A "family member" is
a parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the
a child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the
a grand-parent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild
of the employee or the employee's spouse;
the spouse of a child of the employee;
the employee's brother or sister;
a relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for
care or assistance; and
any individual prescribed as a family member.
If requested by the employer, an employee must provide a
certificate issued by a qualified health practitioner stating that
the family member has a "serious medical
condition." The leave must be taken in full weeks, and
requests must be presented to the employer in writing.
Critically Ill Child Care Leave
Individuals that have been employed for at least 6 consecutive
months will be entitled to up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave, taken in
full weeks of a single period or 2 or more periods that together do
not exceed the entitlement, to provide care or support to their
critically ill child. Bill 21's definition of a
"critically ill child" was adopted from the Employment
Insurance Act, but expanded to include step-children and
foster children, and children that are critically ill as a result
of an injury. Employers must be advised of an employee's
intention to take this leave in writing, and a medical certificate
attesting to the illness of the child and outlining the period
during which the child requires care or support must be issued by a
qualified health practitioner and provided to the employer.
Crime-Related Child Death and Disappearance
Employees who have been employed for at least 6 consecutive
months and are parents to a child who disappeared as a result of a
crime will be entitled to up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave.
Where it is probable, considering the circumstances, that an
employee's child died as a result of a crime, the employee will
be entitled to 104 weeks of unpaid leave. Bill 21 defines
"child" as a child, step-child or foster child less than
18 years of age; and "crime" as an offence under the Criminal
Code, other than an excluded offence as prescribed by the
regulations made under paragraph 209.4(f) of Canada Labour
Code. Where the employee is charged with the crime,
or where it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the
child was a party to the crime, the employee will not be entitled
to the leave. An employee who wishes to take this leave must
advise his or her employer in writing and provide a written plan
that indicates the weeks that will constitute the absence. This
leave may be taken in a single period.
If passed, Bill 21 will significantly expand family leave
entitlements under the Employment Standards Act,2000 which
currently only provides 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave and 8
weeks of Family Medical Leave. We will provide further
updates on Bill 21 as it progresses through the process.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).