Employees Entitled To Family Medical Leave

October 13, 2005

Recent amendments to the Canada Labour Code , the Ontario Employment Standards Act and the Employment Insurance Act provide employees with up to eight (8) weeks of leave from their employment and up to six (6) weeks of employment insurance benefits. The leave allows workers to be temporarily absent from work to provide care or support to a member of his or her family, who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.

All employees in Ontario are now entitled to eight (8) weeks of leave from their employment to provide care for sick relatives without fear of losing their job. If these employees are eligible to receive Employment Insurance, they may receive Employment Insurance benefits for up to six weeks; subject to a two week waiting period. The 8 weeks of leave and the Employment Insurance benefits may be divided and shared among family members, however, the total leave with respect to one ill or injured individual may not exceed 8 weeks. Where Employment Insurance benefits are shared, only one two-week waiting period will be served. Entitlement to leave ceases at the end of eight weeks or on the last day of the week in which the individual dies.

Entitlement to the benefit however, is not as simple as merely having a sick relative. In order to be eligible for the leave and benefits, the ill or injured individual, must be related to the employee requesting leave, in one of the following ways:

  • Child/children,
  • children of spouse or common-law spouse,
  • a husband or wife or common-law partner,
  • a parent,
  • a step-parent or
  • the parent of a common-law partner.

Additionally it will only be granted where there is a serious risk of death. In order to claim either the leave or the Employment Insurance benefits, a medical certificate completed by a qualified health practitioner is required. The certificate must state the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within a period of 26 weeks or sooner.