“No family should have to worry about their job when they are caring for a sick child or in crisis because their child is missing or injured as a victim of crime”

Nova Scotia Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett

Changes to the Labour Standards Code were introduced on March 27 aimed at providing job security for parents and guardians in need of an unpaid leave when a child is in crisis.  The proposed leave would dovetail into new federal Employment Insurance benefits announced last summer.  The Nova Scotia government press release introducing these changes that summarizes Bill No. 3 can be read here

Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba currently have family leave protection in their legislation.  The proposed leave in Nova Scotia would create an entitlement to 37 weeks unpaid leave for employees to take care of a critically ill or injured child, up to 52 weeks unpaid leave for parents whose child is missing due to a Criminal Code offence, and up to 104 weeks unpaid leave for parents whose child has died due to probable Criminal Code offences.   In all situations, the leaves would apply where the child is under the age of 18 and the parent or guardian has been employed by the employer for at least three months.  Some of the proposed rules:

  • The employee must advise the employer in writing as soon as possible of any intention to take a leave of absence must provide the employer with a written plan showing the weeks in which the leave will be taken.
  • When the employee does not have opportunity to give advanced notice, the employee must advise the employer as soon as possible
  • The employer can request a copy of a certificate from a physician stating that the child is critically ill and needs the support of the employee
  • Leaves of absence can only be taken in periods of not less than one week’s duration.

The province recognizes that this will be difficult for some employers:

We know that it will be hard for some employers, especially small employers, to hold these jobs …But I believe their hearts are where our hearts are — with any family who is coping with a sick or lost child.

Bill No. 3 must now proceed second reading at the legislature.  If the Bill second reading, it will be set down for Law Amendments Committee to hear representations from stakeholders.