Leaves of Absence

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 request that your name should not be disclosed. The Act protects you if you are trying to exercise your rights.
If you are a member of the trade union and the terms of your employment are defined by the collective agreement at your workplace, you may not be covered under the Act for the simple reason that the collective agreement is assumed to provide better protection.
If you are covered under the Act, you may be entitled to the following:
.           Pregnancy and Parental
.           Personal Emergency
.           Family Medical and Reservist
The employer is not required to pay wages while you are on such leave but must give you your job back when you return from leave. You do not lose any benefits or seniority. If you wish to opt out of any benefit plan, you will have to advise the employer in writing that you do not wish to participate while on leave.
Pregnancy Leave
 If you are pregnant and were hired at least 13 weeks before the baby’s expected birth date, you are entitled to 17 weeks of pregnancy leave. It does not matter if you are full time, part time, and permanent or contract employee.
Parental Leave
As a new parent, both spouses are entitled to take parental leave not necessarily at the same time. You may also take this leave if you are adoptive parent or a person in a relationship with a parent of a child. If you have taken pregnancy leave, you are entitled to up to 35 weeks, otherwise, you may take up to 37 weeks. The parental leave starts after the end of pregnancy leave but no later than 52 weeks after the child is born or comes into their care. Again it does not matter if you are full time, part time, permanent or contract employee as long as you were hired at least 13 weeks before the leave is to begin. 
Personal Emergency Leave
If your company employs at least 50 employees, you may be entitled to 10 days per calendar year for personal illness, injury or medical emergency or for the death, illness, injury, medical or urgent matter for the following relatives:
.           Your spouse
.           A parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of you or your spouse
.           The spouse of your child
.           Your brother or sister
.           A relative who is dependent on you for care or assistance
Family Medical Leave
If your family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of dying in 26 weeks, you may be able to take a family medical leave of 8 weeks. The seriousness of the medical condition and the risk of death must be certified by a qualified health practitioner. It does not matter if you are full time, part time, permanent or contract employee.
Reservist Leave  
If you are military reservists, you are entitled to the leave if you have worked for the company for at least six months.
You may also be entitled to Employment Insurance benefits for such leave. For additional information regarding EI, you can call toll free at 1-800-206-7218.
There are times when you or the employer may not agree with the officer’s decision, in that case, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days. It does not cost you to request an appeal but the employer may be required keep the money in trust with the Ministry 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.
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 [email protected]

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


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