Leaves of Absence

A leave of absence occurs when an employee, with the permission of his or her employer, takes time off work, separate from sick leave or vacation.

You may be eligible whether you are a full-time, part-time, permanent or term contract employee. There are many reasons why you may want to or need to take a leave of absence. Perhaps you want to take maternity leave or a child has become seriously ill and you need to be closely involved in their treatment and care. Sometimes, an aging parent requires help with daily living. Various laws prohibit your employer from discriminating against you for taking a leave of absence.

At minimum, there are specific policies and practices that your employer must comply with depending on your province’s or territory’s specific legislation. Employers can offer longer leaves than the law requires in your employment contract and set out your obligations as an employee.

What You’re Entitled

Generally, under the Employment Standards Act (and similar legislation) employees are entitled to leaves of absence for the following reasons:

  • Pregnancy
  • Parental leave
  • Personal emergency leave
  • Family caregiver leave
  • Family medical leave
  • Critically ill child care leave
  • Organ donor leave
  • Crime-related child death or disappearance leave
  • Reservist leave

Leaves of absences may be paid or unpaid depending on your employment contract. Your company may have a leave of absence policy in place outlining additional leave of absence information not provided in the appropriate legislation. Although most companies and businesses do not provide for paid leaves of absences for parental leave, pregnancy leave, or compassionate care leave etc., employees may be entitled to paid leave through employment insurance benefits.

For example, in Ontario, pay during pregnancy and maternity/parental leaves is provided by employment insurance, a federally managed program. That being said, your rate of pay will be protected until you return to work and in most cases, you can continue to participate in benefit plants and your seniority will continue to accrue while on leave. The Ministry of Labour provides protection against employee dismissal, termination, lay off, suspension, demotion or discipline for taking an acceptable leave of absence.

In Canada, you have certain legal rights, duties and obligations if you want to take a leave of absence. For example, employees must provide their employers with a prescribed amount of written notice before going on pregnancy leave.

Why Choose the Employment Lawyers at Levitt LLP?

Our employment lawyers in Toronto, GTA and across Canada can help you navigate through the maze of regulations as well as policies imposed by your employer.

Each province has specific regulations to determine how much leave you are allowed to take for various situations. It can be difficult to understand what your legal entitlements are as an employee, especially if your employment contract sets out specific policies and procedures for leaves of absence. Let our employment lawyers make sure that you are being afforded your legal entitlements, so you can take the time off from work that you need, without having to stress over the security of your employment. Every situation is unique; so, schedule a consultation today with one of our employment lawyers in Toronto, the GTA or across Canada to learn about your options, legal rights, and legal obligations.


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