On October 29, 2014, Bill 21, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families), 2014, comes into force in Ontario. This legislation will introduce three new unpaid leaves of absence under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000: family caregiver leave, critically ill child care leave and crime-related child death or disappearance leave.

FAMILY CAREGIVER LEAVE

An employee will be entitled to take an unpaid leave of up to eight weeks per calendar year to provide care or support to a family member who has a “serious medical condition,” including a condition that is chronic or episodic. 

In order to be eligible for this leave, the employee must provide the employer with written notice.  As well, the employee must obtain a certificate from a qualified health practitioner, such as a doctor, nurse or psychologist, verifying that the family member has a serious medical condition. The employee is required to provide this certificate to the employer on request.   

For the purpose of this leave, “family member” is given a very broad definition and includes the employee’s spouse, parent, child, sibling and any other relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care of assistance. 

CRITICALLY ILL CHILD CARE LEAVE

An employee will be entitled to take an unpaid leave of up to 37 weeks to provide care or support to a “critically ill child.” Pursuant to the legislation, “critically ill child” means “a child whose baseline state of health has significantly changed and whose life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury.” 

In order to be eligible for this leave, the employee must have been employed by his or her employer for at least six consecutive months. As well, the employee must provide written notice to the employer. Further, the employee must obtain a certificate from a qualified health practitioner, such as a doctor, nurse or psychologist, stating that the child is critically ill and setting out the period during which the child requires care or support. The employee is required to provide this certificate to the employer on request.  

For the purpose of this leave, “child” means a child, step-child, foster child or child who is under legal guardianship, and who is under 18 years of age.

CRIME-RELATED CHILD DEATH OR DISAPPEARANCE LEAVE

An employee will be entitled to take an unpaid leave of (a) up to 104 weeks if a child dies or (b) up to 52 weeks if a child disappears and it is likely that such death or disappearance is the result of a crime under the Criminal Code (Canada). This leave must be taken in a single period. 

In order to be eligible for this leave, the employee must have been employed by his or her employer for at least six consecutive months. As well, the employee must provide the employer with written notice. 

An employee is not entitled to this leave if he or she is charged with the crime or if it is likely that the child was a party to the crime. 

For the purpose of this leave, “child” means a child, step-child or foster child who is under 18 years of age.