Bill 21 Brings New Categories of Leave to Employment Standards Act

June 10th, 2014 by

Ira Marcovitch, Summer Law Student

On April 29, 2014, the Ontario Provincial Parliament passed Bill 21, more commonly referred to as the Employment Standards Amendments Act (Leaves to Help Families), SO 2014 C 6. The amendments, which come out to just over three pages, introduce three new types of job-protected leaves available under the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

The first, Family Caregiver Leave, provides for unpaid, job-protected leave for up to 8 weeks per calendar year to take care of a family member suffering from a ‘serious medical condition’ as described in the Act. While the class of persons for whom the employee may take leave to care for is quite broad, employees will need to furnish their employers with a medical note attesting to the relative’s condition.

The second type of leave provided for in the new legislation is the Critically Ill Child Care Leave. Under this heading, a parent of a child who is critically ill may take up to 37 weeks per calendar year of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for the child. Again, employees wishing to take advantage of this leave must provide their employer with a physician’s note attesting to the condition of their child and the anticipated length of time during which the child will require care. As well, this leave is limited to parents of children under 18 years of age. While the employee is not entitled to additional leave if more than one child was critically injured at the same time, the period of leave can be extended up to 52 weeks if a physician attests that such a period of care is necessary.

The final type of leave introduced by Bill 21 is the Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance Leave. Pursuant to this class of leave, an employee is entitled to unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 52 weeks if their child disappears as a result of a probable crime, and 104 weeks if their child dies as a result of an apparent crime. However, if at any point it becomes probable that the disappearance or death was not the result of a crime, then all entitlement to leave immediately ceases. In all cases, the child must be under the age of 18, and the parent must have been employed by their current employer for at least six consecutive months to qualify.

These changes will come into effect on October 30, 2014. If you have any questions in relation to leave entitlements, or any other entitlement under the Employment Standards Act, please contact one of our skilled Employment Law lawyers.

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