The Proposed Bill 21 “The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families) 2014” passed legislation on April 29, 2014 and will take effect on October 29, 2014. This new minimum standard set by the ESA will entitle Ontario workers to three new job protected leave of absences:
Family Caregiver Leave
All Canadian employees, regardless of their length of employment will be eligible for up to eight weeks per calendar year to provide care and support to a family member including children, siblings, parents and grandparents. Family members must be certified as having a serious medical condition by a qualified health practitioner (physicians, nurses and psychologists). The eight weeks of leave will apply to each family member described in the section and does not have to be taken all at once.
Critically Ill Child Care Leave
Canadian employees who have been employed for at least six consecutive months will be eligible to take up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care or support to a critically ill child of the employee (again as certified by a qualified health professional). Employees who are eligible for this leave may also be qualified to receive Employment Insurance benefits from the federal government (known as special benefits for Parents of Critically Ill Children) for the duration of their leave. As with the Family Caregiver Leave, written notice must be provided to the employer and the employer is entitled to request a copy of the certificate that qualifies the employee for the leave.
Crime-Related Death or Disappearance Leave
Canadian employees who have been employed for at least six months and have a child who dies and it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the death was the result of a crime, are eligible for up to 104 weeks of leave. In addition, where it is probable that an employee’s child has disappeared as a result of a crime, that employee would be entitled to a leave of up to 52 weeks. Similar to the Critically Ill Child Care Leave, employees may also be eligible to receive income support from the federal government in the form of a grant called ‘Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children’.
American and Canadian employers should update their existing employment agreements with their workers in Ontario to reflect and comply with the changes when they take effect in October, 2014.