On April 29, 2014, the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 21,
Employment Standards Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2014, an
amendment to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the
"Act") that will come into force on October 29, 2014.
The amendment introduces three new job protected leaves under
the Act: a Family Caregiver Leave, a Critically Ill Child Care
Leave, and a Crime-Related Death and Disappearance Leave.
Family Caregiver Leave
Employees are entitled to up to eight (8) weeks of unpaid leave
a year to provide care and support for a family member with a
"serious medical condition." Family members may include a
child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent and also the
employee's or the employee's spouse's step- or foster
parent or child.
The Family Caregiver Leave builds on the existing Family Medical
Leave which provides employees with the opportunity to provide care
or support to certain family members suffering from serious medical
conditions with a significant risk of death. Employees are entitled
to the Family Caregiver Leave regardless of their length of
To be eligible for the Family Caregiver Leave, an employee must
provide their employer with written notice and, if requested, a
certificate from a qualified health practitioner in support of the
Critically Ill Child Care Leave
To be eligible for the Critically Ill Child Care Leave,
employees must be in the service of the employer for at least six
(6) consecutive months.
The Critically Ill Child Care Leave entitles employees to up to
37 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care and support for a
critically ill child.
The employee must provide the employer with certification of the
critical illness from a qualified health practitioner that sets out
the period during which the critically ill child requires care or
Crime-Related Death and Disappearance Leave
The Crime-Related Death and Disappearance Leave is only
available to employees employed for a minimum of six (6)
If it is probable that an employee's child has disappeared
as a result of a crime, an employee is entitled to up to 52 weeks
of unpaid leave. However, an employee is eligible for up to 104
weeks of unpaid leave if it is probable that their child has died
as a result of a crime.
The leave is not available if the employee is charged with the
crime or if the employee's child is a probable party to the
In light of these new job protected leaves, employers should
consider taking the following steps:
Review existing leave policies, procedures and, if applicable,
Create protocols to receive and address leave requests;
Consider how to deal with potentially lengthy absences of
certain employees once the legislation comes into force.
Hot off the Press
In a recent June 27, 2014 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada
ruled that Wal-Mart Canada Corp. ("Wal-Mart") violated
Quebec's Labour Code when it closed down its Jonquière
establishment following a successful certification of its workers
by a union.
The Supreme Court held that Wal-Mart's closure of the
Jonquière establishment was a violation of the statutory
freeze provision in the Quebec Labour Code, which precludes an
employer from altering the conditions of employment during the
negotiation of a collective agreement.
The precise remedy has yet to be decided, and has been sent back
to the Arbitrator for determination. Given the broad range of
remedies available to an arbitrator, this case is far from
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.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
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.
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