Last month, the Government of Ontario introduced two bills which
would provide for new leaves under the Employment Standards
Act, 2000 as well as new training obligations under the
Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Leave proposed for grieving parents
On March 8, 2016, the Government introduced Bill 175, Jonathan's Law (Employee Leave
of Absence When Child Dies), 2016. Under Bill 175, an
employee who has been employed by his or her employer for at least
six consecutive months will be entitled to a leave of absence
without pay of up to 52 weeks if a child of the employee dies.
"Child" is defined in the Bill to include children,
step-children and foster children under the age of 18.
Employers will be required to provide
a leave of absence of a "reasonable duration" to
employees who have experienced (or who have children who have
experienced) domestic or sexual violence. This leave is available
to be used by employees for specific purposes, including:
seeking medical attention or counselling related to the
obtaining support services or legal assistance; or
relocating (temporarily or permanently) to reduce the
likelihood of future violence.
Unlike most ESA leaves which are unpaid, Domestic
Violence or Sexual Violence leave will provide employees with up to
10 days of paid leave per calendar year, which would make
this the first and only paid leave under the Employment
The second requirement under Bill 177
will be for employers to accommodate, up to the point of undue
hardship, employees who have (or whose children have) experienced
domestic or sexual violence. This may include changing an
employee's place of work and/or their hours of employment to
accommodate the employee's circumstances.
Finally, this new Bill will require
employers to ensure that every manager, supervisor and worker
receives information and instruction about domestic and sexual
violence in the workplace. This requirement will be enacted under
the Occupational Health and Safety Act and will be in
addition to the requirements of Bill 132 that we wrote about last month.
As both pieces of proposed legislation are in their early
stages, we will continue to provide updates on their progress. If
you have any questions regarding these proposed amendments to the
ESA and OHSA, do not hesitate to contact anyone
in our Labour and Employment Group.
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.
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