There’s been a growing trend over the past few years to offer more flexible leave options to employees that require time off in order to care for a child or an elder. Most recently, the Ontario Minister of Labour proposed an amendment to the Employment Standards Act that would introduce a handful of new leave provisions.
Bill 21, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leaves to Help Families) 2013—if it passes—would create the following unpaid leaves for eligible employees (in addition to their current family/medical leave options):
Family Caregiver Leave
Up to eight weeks off to care for a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, spouse of a child, sibling, or dependent relative in the case of a serious health condition.
Critically Ill Childcare Leave
Up to 37 weeks to provide care or support to critically ill child.
Crime-Related Disappearance Leave
Up to 52 weeks if a child of the employee disappears and it is probable that the child disappeared as a result of a crime, unless the employee was charged with the crime or it is probable that the child was a party to the crime.
Crime-Related Child Death Leave
Up to 104 weeks if a child of the employee dies and it is probable that the child died as a result of a crime, unless the employee was charged with the crime or it is probable that the child was a party to the crime.
So how will these new leaves affect my workplace?
For all of the new leave programs, employees will be required to advise their employer in writing of their need to take the leave (if possible). Make sure that your employees are up to date on this policy in the event that they need to take a child or elder-care leave.
Employers should also notify their Human Resources departments of the amendment to ensure that they are aware of the additional leave options.