16 Important Things You Should Know About Leave

Before you write the resignation letter, hold on a moment. Here are sixteen things you need to know about your rights for leave.

Work has a way of getting in the way of life sometimes. Perhaps it's the deadlines we impose. Sometimes, the physical demands are too much. Sometimes, it's not work at all, but life events that we have on our own like the birth of a child or death of a family member.
 
In any case, there are days when we're forced to question whether we want to stay working at all. Is it worth it to stick around or should we just throw up our hands, go home to deal with our lives, and then try to find a new job after we're situated?
 
Before you write the resignation letter, hold on a moment.
 
Per the Employee Standards Act(ESA), you have rights that can help you deal with what life throws your way. Here are sixteen things you need to know about your rights for leave.
 
Pro Tip: All leave is considered to be unpaid from the employer’s perspective though some qualify for Employment benefits.
 

 

Pregnancy and Parental Leave

 

1.  Pregnancy leave length

 
In an around the birth of a child, a mother has the right to take up to 17 weeks of pregnancy leave. Typically thought of as a time for healing as the birth of a child can be difficult, the leave can start before your due date if a doctor deems that you need time off before to rest.
 
Pro Tip: To obtain this right, a mother has to be hired at least 13 weeks before the due date.
 

2. Parental leave

 
Whether your family is growing from the birth of a child or adoption, both parents have the right to take up to 63 weeks of parental leave (61 for a birth mother who also took pregnancy leave).
 

3. Benefits remain

 
As long as you continue to pay into a benefits plan then you have the right to continue using the plan for:
 

  • pension
  • life insurance
  • accidental death
  • extended health
  • dental

Employers are required to continue paying their portion of the benefits while the employee is on leave.
 

4. The same job

 
Employees who take leave for pregnancy or parental purposes are entitled to have their old job back or an equivalent one if that job has been discontinued. The employee continues to earn credit for calculating length of service and seniority.
 

 

Sick Leave

 

5. Duration of sick leave

 
An employee is entitled to take up to three unpaid days of sick leave every calendar year due to personal injury, illness, or medical emergency.
 

6. Notification

 
An employee can take the leave for a pre-planned elective surgery as long as it's for an illness or injury even though it isn't an emergency.
 
Pro Tip: An employee cannot take a sick day for a surgery that is cosmetic and not medically necessary.
 

Bereavement leave

 

7.  Bereavement leave length

 
An employee is entitled to up to 2 days of leave in a calendar year in the case of the death of the following:
 

  • spouse (married or un-married, same or different sex)
  • parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee's spouse
  • spouse of the employee's child
  • brother or sister of the employee
  • dependent relative of the employee

 

8. Notification

 
Leave can be taken at time of death or at a later time to attend a funeral or to attend to other estate matters.
 

9. Per annum

 
The right to bereavement is independent of the starting date for work. An employee has the same rights if they start in December as those who start in January.
 
Pro Tip: Employers may request proof of entitlement under reasonable circumstances such as a history of absences.
 

 

Family responsibility leave

 

10. Duration of family responsibility leave

 
An employee is entitled to take up to three unpaid days of sick leave every calendar year due to personal injury, illness, or medical emergency of certain relatives including:
 

  • spouse (married or un-married, same or different sex)
  • parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee's spouse
  • spouse of the employee's child
  • brother or sister of the employee
  • dependent relative of the employee

 

11. Notification

 
An employee can take the leave for a pre-planned elective surgery for a specified family member as mentioned above as long as it's for an illness or injury even though it isn't an emergency.
 

12. Urgent Matter

 
An employee may take a family responsibility leave for certain urgent matters that are out of the employee's control and could cause negative consequences to the family member, including emotional or mental harm if left unresolved.
 
Examples:
 

  • The employee’s babysitter calls in sick.
  • The employee must meet with school officials regarding the employee's children if the meeting cannot be scheduled outside of work hours.

 
Pro Tip: Being a member of a sibling's wedding party does not count as an urgent matter.
 
 

 

Family Caregiver Leave

 

13. Duration of Family Caregiver Leave

 
An employee is entitled up to 8 weeks of leave per calendar year to care for a family member if a qualified health practitioner has issued a certificate indicating the condition and requirement. That time can be consecutively or separately.
 
 

 

Family Medical Leave

 

14. Duration of Family Medical Leave

 
An employee is entitled to up to 28 weeks out of a 52-week period to care for a family member with a health certificate from a qualified health practitioner who has a high likelihood of death within a 26-week period.
 

15. EI benefits

 
An employee may be entitled to 26 weeks of EI benefits called compassionate care benefits during the time they are caring for their family members.
 
Pro Tip: An employer has the right to ask for proof of the medical certificate.
 

16. Free from penalty

 
An employee who either exercises or even discusses the above rights cannot be penalized in any way. That means you cannot lose your job, be demoted, or be discriminated against for taking leave or discussing it.
 

 

Know Your Rights and Accept Your Responsibilities

 
Don't throw in the towel.
 
Understanding your rights will empower you to achieve more. A good employer will support you in any way possible and some will have their own programs to complement the ESA such as paying you a portion or even full amounts through your leave. If an employer has a policy that gives an employee more than the ESA then the employer's system is used; however, they cannot reduce your rights as laid out in the ESA.
 
Check out your full rights, and responsibilities here. (https://www.ontario.ca/document/your-guide-employment-standards-act-0)