Family Medical Leave

This article was last updated on June 18, 2022

If you work in the province of Ontario and the company falls under its jurisdiction, you may be covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The Act sets minimum standards that an employer must comply with. If the employer fails to do so, you can file a claim on line and without cost with the Ministry of Labour against the company. If you are still working for the company, you may be able to file a claim with a request that your name not be disclosed to the employer. If you are currently not working for the company, it should not matter whether the employer knows your name. Some standards are so unique that they cannot be investigated without identifying you. The officer assigned to your file would advise you whether or not your complaint can be investigated without identifying you. The Act protects you if you are trying to exercise your rights and if the employer penalise you or threatens to do so because of it, the officer is empowered to prevent the company from taking such an action and if the company is hell bent on penalising you, the officer can impose additional penalties on the company.
If you are working under the collective agreement or belong to a union at the workplace, you may not be covered under the Act. It is assumed the collective agreement would include all the provision of the Act
There are times when you or the employer may disagree with the officer’s decision, if so, both parties have a right to appeal the officer’s decision to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days of such a decision. It does not cost the employee any money to request an appeal but the employer may have to pay the money to the Ministry, which is kept in trust if it is found to be owing. The Ministry then distributes the money in accordance with the Board’s decision. The Board’s decision is final and binding on both parties.
It is important that if the appeal has been requested that you must attend the hearing, otherwise, the referee may accept the evidence of the employer, which would be unchallenged with your absence at the hearing.
Sometime, the question arises, should the employee engage the services of an expert? It is my view that in most cases it is not necessary at the initial investigation by the officer. However, if the issues are complex, the employee may wish to engage such services at the appeal process.
You are entitled to take a maximum of eight weeks off work to provide care or support if some loved one were to become gravely ill. This leave is unpaid but your job is protected during the leave. It is broadly based and is not only available for a family member but also for someone who considers you to be a family member.
You are expected to provide a certificate from a qualified medical practitioner confirming that the individual may die within a period of 26 weeks. It may include providing psychological or emotional support, arranging for care by a third party or directly providing or participating in the care of the family member.
You are able to take the family medical leave for the following members:
            .           The employee’s spouse (including same sex spouse)
            .           A parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse
            .           A child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse
            .           A brother, step-brother, sister or step-sister of the employee
            .           A grandparent or step-grandparent of the employee or the employee’s spouse
            .           A grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
            .           A brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister-in-law or step-sister-in-law of the employee
            .           A son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee or the employee’s spouse
            .           An uncle or aunt of the employee or the employee’s spouse
            .           The nephew or the niece of the employee or the employee’s spouse
            .           The spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
            .           For someone, who consider the employee to be like a family member?
You don’t have to take the entire eight weeks all at once and may take one week at a time within a specified 26-week period. You may also be entitled to six weeks of Employment Insurance benefits called Compassionate Care Benefits under EI.
This information is only provided to guide you about your entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and should not be considered as a legal advice.

This article is provided by Rajinder K. Batra, who is a retired Employment Standards Officer with the Ministry of Labour with 15 years experience in these matters.

If you have any questions regarding your employment, please contact the writer by e-mail at

If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805. 

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