Employers have increasing obligations for ensuring that their
employees are able to balance their family responsibilities with
their work responsibilities.
On April 29, 2014, Bill 21, the Employment Standards
Amendments Act(Leaves to Help Families), 2014 (the
"Act") received Royal Assent with full party
support in the Ontario Legislature. The Act will
come into force on October 29, 2014 and will apply to all employers
that are subject to the Employment Standards Act,
The Act will amend the Employment Standards Act,
2000 (the "ESA") to include three new
circumstances in which employers will be required to provide unpaid
leaves to employees and guarantee their jobs will be available when
they return. While the ESA already provides for
Family Medical Leave, these new leaves include Family Caregiver
Leave, Critically Ill Child Care Leave, and Crime-related Child
Death or Disappearance Leave.
Under the Family Caregiver Leave provisions, employees will be
entitled to take up to eight weeks of unpaid leave from work in
each calendar year in order to provide care or support to
individuals with a serious medical condition. Presently, the
list of individuals needing care or support which would qualify the
employee for the leave includes:
The employee's spouse.
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 grandparent, 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.
Any individual prescribed in regulations as a family member for
the purposes of Family Caregiver Leave.
Under the Critically Ill Child Care Leave provision, employees
who have been working for at least six consecutive months will be
entitled to up to 37 weeks of leave without pay if they have a
child, step-child, foster child or child who is under their legal
guardianship who is critically ill.
Under the Crime-related Child Death or Disappearance Leave,
employees who have been working for at least six consecutive months
will be entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave without pay if the
employee's child has disappeared as a result of a crime, and up
to 104 weeks of leave without pay if their child has died as a
result of a crime.
In a continuing trend of support for the job security of
employees struggling with family obligations, this legislation will
add to obligations already imposed on employers including the
provision of unpaid Family Medical Leave under the ESA, as well as
the accommodation of family status imposed under Ontario human
rights law, which presently requires employer accommodation of
employees dealing with child care, elder care, or spousal support
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