Leaves of Absence Ontario – The Ultimate Guide

Leaves of Absence Ontario – The Ultimate Guide

Things come up. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns – some joyful and others trying beyond measure. Life is often a delicately managed chaos. At the best of times, striking a work-life balance demands the gymnastic skills of a Cirque-de-Soleil performer. And then life throws a curve-ball into this juggling act and, much like this circus analogy, things go off the rails.

As essential as work may be, there are other things in life that are far more important: a new baby or an ailing relative, for example. Fortunately, Ontarians have access to several different leaves of absence under the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

Leaves of Absence Available in Ontario

The job-protected leaves of absence available to Ontarians are:

  • Personal Emergency
  • Family Caregiver
  • Family Medical
  • Critically Ill Child Care
  • Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance
  • Reservist
  • Organ Donor
  • Jury Duty
  • Voting
  • Pregnancy
  • Parental

Leave of Absence & Job Protection

Each of these leaves of absence is job-protected, meaning you are entitled to return to your job, in the same position as when you left for your leave. You cannot be fired or punished in any way for taking or planning to take one of these leaves of absence. This means you cannot have your wages or hours reduced or be threatened with suspension or termination. As mentioned, you are entitled to your former position upon returning to work. However, if your position no longer exists, you should be offered one that is comparable in terms of skills, duties, pay, benefits, etc.

Your benefits, length of service and seniority will continue to accrue during your leave. Furthermore, your employer must continue to make contributions towards your benefits plan unless they are shared contributions and you advise your employer in writing that you will not continue your contributions during your leave.

You are entitled to all of these leaves whether you are employed part-time, full-time, on a contract or permanent basis. While these leaves are all unpaid, you are often entitled to access certain Employment Insurance (EI) benefits during these leaves.

Giving Notice for Leave of Absence

Giving your employer reasonable notice of your leave is essential. It allows them to plan ahead and keep their business running smoothly. Two weeks is the generally accepted standard minimum period of notice. However, as many of these leaves are intended to address unexpected emergency situations, it is understood that two weeks notice is not always possible.

Employees should strive to give their employers as much notice as possible. With pregnancy and parental leave, this can be fairly straightforward, but with an unexpected medical emergency it might not be. Therefore, regardless of the leave, you should give your employer notice of your leave as soon as possible whether it is two months or two hours in advance.

The Scoop on the Various Leaves of Absence

As this week’s blog title suggests, we are going to break down the various leaves of absence over a couple of posts. So, come back next week to learn the ins and outs of Personal Emergency, Family Medical, Family Caregiver and Critically Ill Child leaves of absence.

If your work position has been negatively impacted by a leave of absence, KCY at LAW has the expertise to ensure that your rights are protected. Call to book a consultation (905) 639-0999 or reach us online.