Ontario Adding New Statutory Leaves of Absence

Beginning on October 29th, 2014 Ontario will have in place three (3) new leaves of absence.

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) will specifically be adding the following:

  • Family caregiver leave – Up to 8 weeks per year to care for a family member with a serious medical condition
  • Critically ill child care leave – Up to 37 weeks per year to care for a critically ill child under the age of 18
  • Crime-related child death and disappearance leave – Up to 52 weeks per year if a child disappears in connection with a crime.

The changes will result in Ontario having a total of 10 statutorily protected leaves under the ESA, the other leaves being as follows:

  • organ donor leave
  • family medical leave
  • personal emergency leave
  • pregnancy leave
  • parental leave
  • reservist leave
  • declared emergency leave

What does this mean for employers?

Employers are required by law to accommodate employees who qualify for statutorily protected leaves under the ESA.  Company management should accordingly be well-versed in the requirements under the ESA in order to ensure that requests are considered and provided where appropriate.  This is important in order to avoid both potential liability and the negative publicity associated with a finding of a violation under Ontario’s employment laws.  Employers would accordingly be wise to review their policies and procedures to ensure that the workforce is prepared to appropriately respond to requests for leaves of absence and to maintain accurate records.