On October 29, 2014, the Ontario Employment Standards
Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2014, Bill 21, comes
into force. Bill 21 introduces three new leaves
to Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the
"Act"): (1) Family Caregiver Leave, (2) Critically Ill
Child Care Leave, and (3) Crime-Related Child Death or
1. Family Caregiver Leave
An employee will be entitled to an unpaid leave of absence in
order to provide care or support to a family member if a qualified
health practitioner issues a certificate stating that the family
member has a serious medical condition. The employee is required to
produce the certificate to his or her employer upon request.
The Family Caregiver Leave will apply to the following family
members: an employee's spouse; parent, step-parent, foster
parent of the employee or their spouse; a grandparent,
step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or
their 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.
The leave may be up to eight weeks for each family member in
each calendar year. The employee must advise the employer in
writing before going on leave or as soon as possible after
beginning the leave.
2. Critically Ill Child Care Leave
An employee who has been with an employer for at least six
months will be entitled to an unpaid leave of absence to care for a
critically ill child. A critically ill child is one whose life is
at risk and whose baseline state of health has significantly
changed. A qualified health practitioner must issue a
certificate stating that the child is critically ill and requires
the care and support of one or more parents. The certificate should
set out the period for which a child requires care and support.
The Critically Ill Child Care Leave will apply with respect to a
child who is: a child, step-child, foster child, or child under
legal guardianship. The child must be under 18 years of age.
Leave may be for a period of up to 37 weeks and can be taken in
consecutive weeks or separately. If the certificate specifies a
shorter period of time than 37 weeks, then the period in the
certificate applies. The Act contains provisions for extensions of
time and additional leaves.
An employee who intends to go on a Critically Ill Child Care
Leave must advise the employer in writing and provide a written
plan that indicates the weeks that he or she will be on leave. The
employer may ask the employee to produce the health
3. Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave
Employees who have been with their employer for at least six
consecutive months will be entitled to Crime-Related Child Death or
Disappearance Leave. "Child" includes a child, step-child
or foster child less than 18 years of age. An employee will be
entitled to an unpaid leave of absence of up to 104 weeks if his or
her child died and the death was probably the result of a crime. An
employee will be entitled to an unpaid leave of absence without pay
for up to 52 weeks if his or her child disappeared and the
disappearance was probably the result of a crime. The Act will also
address circumstances where a missing child is found.
The employee will not be entitled to a leave of absence if the
employee is charged with a crime related to the child's death
or disappearance or, if it is probable, considering the
circumstances, that the childwas a party to the crime. If a change
of circumstances indicates that the child's death or
disappearance was not the result of a crime, the employee's
entitlement to leave will end.
An employee who intends to go on leave must advise his or her
employer in writing and provide the employer with a written plan
indicating the weeks that he or she will be on leave. This must be
done prior to commencing leave or as soon as possible after
beginning it. In most cases, this leave must be taken in a single
As an employer, you should review your policies on leaves of
absence and ensure that your practices reflect the current
additions to the Act. Our lawyers can assist you in reviewing your
policies and understanding your obligations under the Act.
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.
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