Do You Know Your Leave Entitlements?

I’m going to get a little personal here, but it’s for a very good reason.

A close family member of mine over that last year and a half has been on a leave of absence more than they have been actually working.  In June of 2021, they suffered a massive heart attack and had a pacemaker implanted.  They were off work for many months recovering.  They went back to work in May of 2022 and in August, that same family member suffered a ruptured aneurysm and had major surgery.  They are still not back to work and in fact, they are scheduled for another surgery mid-December.  This family member is 47 years old.

Just the other day we were talking and they brought up a radio ad they had heard regarding changes to leaves of absences which they believed increased their leave time.  This caused me to pause, and I’ll you why. 

As I work for this firm, a large part of our practice is employment law.  While I’m no lawyer, I am usually apprised of changes that are being made to the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”).  I was not aware of any major changes that was coming down the pipeline for Ontario employees, but I was aware of some minor changes coming for Federal employees. 

There are 2 points to this story. Point number 1: Make sure you are looking at the legislation that applies to you.  The ESA is not Canada Labour Code (“CLC”). 

Here is a quick breakdown between the ESA and the CLC regarding leaves of absence:

Type of Leave:                   Ontario Employee Entitlement   Federal Employment Entitlement

Critical Illness                    Under 18: 37 weeks unpaid          Same

                                          Adult: 17 weeks unpaid                     Same

Family Caregiver Leave     8 weeks unpaid                            No leave provided

Sick Leave                         3 days of unpaid                           17 weeks of unpaid medical

                                                                                               16 weeks of unpaid re: Covid

Personal                            3 days unpaid                              5 days, 3 are paid

The only change that I am aware of is to the Federal paid sick leave entitlements, which could provide federal employees up to 10 days of paid leave in a calendar year. 

I’m not sure what ad my family member heard, but it could be that they maybe didn’t’ know what their full entitlement was.  To that end, here is point number 2:   You can’t take what you hear on the radio to heart.  There are a lot of caveats to leaves of absences.  Make sure you know what you are entitled to as an employee, and know what you as an employer are required to provide. 

Christine Allan, Law Clerk