Bereavement Leave in Ontario

Bereavement Leave in Ontario

In a previous post we wrote about employees’ rights regarding bereavement leave. However, with the change of the Ontario provincial government, things have also changed with regards to employee’s bereavement leave entitlements.

Bereavement Leave Entitlements Under Bill 148

Bill 148 gave all employees 10 days of personal emergency leave per year, the first two of which had to be paid. These ten days could be used as needed for illness, bereavement, caring for a sick child etc.

Bereavement Leave Entitlements under Bill 47

Bill 47 – Making Ontario Open for Business Act – separated Bill 148’s personal emergency leave entitlements in to three separate leaves: sick leave, family responsibility leave and bereavement leave. Under Bill 47 each leave is allocated a specific number of days that are independent of all other leaves.

As of January 1, 2019, employees may take up to two days of bereavement leave for the death of the following family members: spouse, parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse, the spouse of your child, your brother or sister or a dependent relative.

Bereavement leave is a job-protected (you cannot be threatened or punished for taking this leave), unpaid leave per calendar year regardless of whether they are employed part- or full-time.

Bereavement leave can be taken at the time of the death of one of the above listed family members or later for the purpose of a funeral or memorial service or to attend to estate matters.

After two weeks of working for an employer an employee is entitled to take this leave. This time is not pro-rated and the two days do not need to be taken consecutively. However, employers have the right to count a half day of leave as a full day but the employee must still be paid for the hours they work.

Employees must give their employers verbal or written notice as soon as possible that they plan to take this leave.

Another change brought by Bill 47 is that employers may now ask for evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” of an employee’s need to take bereavement leave. This evidence may be, among other things, a death certificate, notification from a funeral home or a published obituary. ‘Reasonable circumstances’ include a variety of factors but in short, unless there is reasonable suspicion that the employee is not using this two-day leave for bereavement purposes, employers should refrain from asking for evidence of an employee’s need to take this leave.

If you have questions regarding the changes to Ontario’s employment law brought in by Bill 47 and how they may affect you, connect with us.