Employers in Ontario should begin reviewing their protocol surrounding leaves of absence as just two days before Halloween a new employment bill will come into effect in the province, supporting workers who have had their worst nightmare come true.
On October 29, three new types of registered leave will be added to the Ontario Employment Standards Act that will see employees granted the right to take extensive unpaid leave should they wish to care for a sick family member, spend time with a critically ill child, or cope with the crime-related death or disappearance of a child.
While all circumstances don’t bare thinking about, Miller Thomson lawyer Zeinab Yousif says: "As an employer, you should review your policies on leaves of absence and ensure that your practices reflect the current additions to the Act."
Family caregiver leave
How long? Employees can take advantage of up to eight weeks off in each calendar year for every family member who is deemed to be in a serious medical condition.
Conditions: Employee must advise the employer in writing before going on leave, or as soon as possible. You can also ask for a certificate issued by a qualified health practitioner stating the family member has a serious medical condition
Critically ill child-care leave
How long? The critically ill child-care leave allows employees up to 37 weeks, to be taken consecutively or separately, of unpaid leave should their child’s life be at risk.
Conditions: The employee must have been with the employer for at least six months and the child must be under the age of 18. Also, the employee must provide a written plan of which weeks they will be absent. Again, employer can ask for a certificate from a qualified health practitioner that states the child is critically ill, requiring parental care and support.
Crime related child death or disappearance leave
It’s the most morbid of thoughts and we’re certain almost every employer out there would be more than willing to accommodate the needs of a grieving parent but the new legislation at least puts it in writing for our less compassionate counterparts.
How long? Employees will be entitled to up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave if his or her child died as the result of a proven or suspected crime or up to 52 weeks if they disappeared as the result of a proven or suspected crime.
Conditions: Despite being equally as distressing, the employee will not be legally entitled to the leave if the child was party to the crime or committed a crime that resulted in his or her own death. Also, the employee must have been with the employer for at least six months.