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Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families) Passed in Ontario Legislature

The Ontario Legislature recently passed – with unanimous support – Bill 21, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families), which we previously blogged about here. This legislation allows caregivers to take time off work and focus on their families during difficult times without fear of losing their jobs. The three new leaves are an extension to the existing Family Medical Leave and provide much needed job-protection for employees. Below is a summary of the newly permitted leaves of absence:

  • Family Caregiver Leave: up to 8 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to provide care for an employee’s family member with a medical condition
  • Critically Ill Child Care Leave: up to 37 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to provide care for an employee’s critically ill child
  • Crime-related Death or Disappearance Leave: up to 52 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if an employee’s child has disappeared and it is probable that the disappearance is as a result of crime; and up to 104 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if an employee’s child has died from what appears to be a result of crime

Some of these leaves have particular conditions for eligibility, such as a minimum period of time for which the employee must have worked for the employer prior to taking the leave. There are also legal obligations on employees with respect to notifying employers.

Employees and employers may require legal advice to assess whether an employee is eligible for a particular leave and what obligations exist for each party before, during and after the leave.

Employees will be able to take advantage of these new leaves beginning in October 2014.

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