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Disclaimer: The information contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue.  Users are advised to seek legal advice from their legal counsel prior to taking (or omitting to take) any action based on the information contained herein.  While we periodically review and update the information contained herein, we do not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein and the information should not be relied upon as accurate, timely or fit for any particular purpose. This information was constructed on October 15th 2018.

What are Federally Regulated Employees entitled to in terms of Bereavement Leave in Canada?

Federally Regulated Employees include the following

If you are employed by one of the following businesses and industries, you are more than likely working in a federally regulated sector:

  • banks
  • marine shipping, ferry and port services
  • air transportation, including airports, aerodromes and airlines
  • railway and road transportation that involves crossing provincial or international borders
  • canals, pipelines, tunnels and bridges (crossing provincial borders)
  • telephone, telegraph and cable systems
  • radio and television broadcasting
  • grain elevators, feed and seed mills
  • uranium mining and processing
  • businesses dealing with the protection of fisheries as a natural resource
  • many First Nation activities
  • most federal Crown corporations
  • private businesses necessary to the operation of a federal act

Federally regulated employees are entitled to unpaid leave, except bereavement leave which is paid.

Bereavement Leave

Any employees are entitled to paid bereavement leave for the death of an immediate family member, provided the employee has worked for their employer for three consecutive months. If they have not, they are entitled to leave without pay.

This leave allows the employee to take up to three consecutive working days off after the death of the family member.

[Division VIII]

Leave Related to Death or Disappearance

An employee, whose child is under 18 years of age and has disappeared or died as a result of a probable crime, is eligible to take up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave in the case of a missing child, and up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave if the child has died.

An employee is not entitled to the leave of absence if the employee is charged with the crime or it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child was a party to the crime.

If two or more children of an employee disappear or are murdered as a result of the same event, the employee is eligible for only one unpaid leave of 52 or 104 weeks respectively.

However, if two or more children of an employee disappear or are murdered as a result of different events, the employee will be eligible for separate leaves with respect to each affected child.

[Division VII, 206.5]

Interruption of leave related to death or disappearance for other leaves

It is possible for an employee to interrupt their leave related to death or disappearance in order to take sick leave or work-related illness and injury leave.

Leave related to death or disappearance is to resume immediately after the other leave ends, but cannot extend beyond 104 weeks after the day on which the death occurs, or 52 weeks after the day on which the disappearance occurs.

[Division VII, 207.02 (1)]

Alberta

Employees are eligible for bereavement leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer.

Employees are entitled to 3 days of unpaid bereavement leave per year, not per incident of bereavement.

Eligible employees can take time off work without risk of losing their job.

Employers must grant bereavement leave to eligible employees and give them their same, or equivalent, job back when the employee returns to work.

Employers aren’t required to pay wages or benefits during leave, unless stated in an employment contract or collective agreement.

Employees on bereavement leave are considered to be continuously employed for the purposes of calculating years of service.

Eligibility

Employees are eligible for bereavement leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer.

Employees with less than 90 days of employment may still be granted leave. However, their employers aren’t required under employment standards legislation to grant them leave.

Who’s considered a family member?

Bereavement leave can be taken after the death of an immediate or extended family member. All of the following are considered family members.

Employee’s family members:

  • Spouse, adult interdependent partner or common-law partner
  • Children (and their partner/spouse)
  • Current or former foster children (and their partner/spouse)
  • Current or former wards
  • Parents, step-parents and/or current or former guardians (and their partner/spouse)
  • Current or former foster parents
  • Siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings (and their partner/spouse)
  • Grandchildren, step-grandchildren (and their partner/spouse)
  • Grandparents, step-grandparents
  • Aunts, uncles, step-aunts, step-uncles (and their partner/spouse)
  • Nieces, nephews (and their partner/spouse)
  • A person the employee isn’t related to but considers to be like a close relative

Family members of employee’s spouse, common-law or adult interdependent partner:

  • Children (and their partner/spouse)
  • Current or former wards
  • Parents, step-parents, foster parents
  • Sibling, half-sibling, step-sibling
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Aunts, uncles
  • Nieces, nephews

Length of leave

An employee can take up to 3 days of bereavement leave in each calendar year. Any leave days not used by an employee cannot be carried over into a new calendar year.

Giving notice

An employee must give an employer notice as soon as is reasonable before taking a leave.

A medical certificate or other documentation is not required by legislation in order to take personal and family responsibility leave, however, employers can establish their own policies for documentation. Any leave days not used by an employee do not have to be paid out by the employer if employment terminates.

Termination of employment

An employer may not terminate the employment or lay off an employee for requesting or while on bereavement leave.  Any leave days not used by an employee do not have to be paid out by the employer if employment terminates.

Part 2, Division 7.6 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) sets out the rules for bereavement leave. The legislation entitles eligible employees to a period of leave without pay, at the end of which they must be reinstated in their same, or an equivalent, job.

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

Employees are eligible for death or disappearance of a child leave if the death or disappearance of a child occurs as a result of a probable Criminal Code offence.

Employees are eligible if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer.

Eligible employees can take time off work without pay without risk of losing their job.

Employers must grant death or disappearance of child leave to eligible employees and give them their same, or equivalent, job back when the employee returns to work.

Employers aren’t required to pay wages or benefits during this leave, unless stated in an employment contract or collective agreement.

Employees who take leave due to the death or disappearance of their child are considered to be continuously employed for the purposes of calculating years of service.

Eligibility

Employees are eligible for this leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer and:

  • they are the parent of a child (under 18 years of age) who has disappeared and it is probable that the child disappeared as the result of a crime (an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada), or
  • they are the parent of a child (under 18 years of age) who has died and it is probable that the child died as a result of a crime (an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada)

For the purpose of this type of leave, a parent is considered to be:

  • a parent of the child in question, or
  • the spouse or common-law partner of a parent of the child, or
  • a person with whom the child has been placed for the purpose of adoption, or
  • the guardian or foster parent of the child, or
  • a person who has the care, custody or control of the child whether or not they are related by blood or adoption
  • An employee is not entitled to this leave if they have been charged with the crime that resulted in the death or disappearance of the child.

Employees with less than 90 days of employment may still be granted this leave. However, their employers aren’t required under employment standards legislation to grant them leave or reinstate them after their leave ends.

Length of leave

An eligible employee can take leave for up to 52 weeks if the child has disappeared, and up to 104 weeks if the child has died as a probable result of a crime.

Death of a child

If an employee is taking leave due to the death of a child, then the period of leave will end 104 weeks after the day of the death unless agreed otherwise to in writing by the employee and employer.

The disappearance of a child

If an employee is taking leave due to the disappearance of a child, then the period of leave will end 52 weeks after the day the child disappeared unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the employee and employer.

If the employee takes leave and the child is then found alive, the period of leave ends the earlier of:

  • 14 days after the child is found, or
  • 52 weeks after the day the child disappeared

If the employee takes leave due to the disappearance of a child who is subsequently found deceased as the result of a crime, the period of leave ends 104 weeks after the day the child disappeared.

Giving notice

The eligible employee must provide reasonable verification that they are entitled to the death or disappearance of a child leave as soon as is reasonable.

Reasonable verification will vary depending on the circumstances, but typically is considered written evidence that an employee provides to verify their entitlement to the leave.

Starting leave

The eligible employee can begin their leave on the day of the death or disappearance of the child, but must give their employer written notice as soon as it is reasonable and practicable to do so. This notice should also include the estimated date of the employee’s return to work, if known.

The employee must inform his or her employer of any change in the estimated date of returning to work.

Ending leave

The employee taking the leave must provide at least one week’s written notice of the date they intend to return to work unless the employee and employer agree otherwise.

If an employee takes death or disappearance of child leave and is subsequently charged with the crime that resulted in the death or disappearance of the child, then the leave ends on the day the employee is charged.

An employee who does not want to resume employment after their leave ends must give the employer at least 2 weeks’ written notice of their intention to terminate their employment.

Employers are not required to reinstate employees who fail to give notice or report to work the day after their leave ends, unless the failure is due to unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances.

Leave also ends on the day in which it is no longer probable that the death or disappearance was a result of a crime.

Vacation days and pay

Annual vacation earned prior to leave must be taken within 12 months after it was earned. If this time falls while the employee is on leave, the employee must:

take the remaining vacation time at the end of their leave, or

get approval from the employer to take the vacation time at a later date

Termination of employment

Employees can’t be terminated or laid off while on death or disappearance of a child leave unless:

  • the employer suspends or discontinues the business; in this case, the employer must reinstate the employee if the business starts up again within 52 weeks after their leave ends, or
  • the reason for the termination is unrelated to the employee requesting or taking the leave

How the law applies

Part 2, Division 7.3 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) sets out the rules for death or disappearance of a child leave. The legislation entitles eligible employees to a period of leave without pay, at the end of which they must be reinstated in their same, or an equivalent, job.

 

British Columbia

An employee is entitled to up to three days of unpaid leave on the death of a member of the employee’s immediate family.

These days do not have to be consecutive or start on the date of death.

“Immediate family” means the spouse, child, parent, guardian, sibling, grandchild or grandparent of an employee; and any person who lives with the employee as a member of the employee’s family.

Employment considered continuous

If an employee is on leave, employment is considered continuous for the purposes of calculating annual vacation and termination entitlements, as well as for pension, medical or other plans of benefit to the employee.

The employee is entitled to all increases in wages and benefits that the employee would have received if not on leave.

Conditions of employment to remain the same during leave

An employer may not terminate an employee, or change a condition of employment, because of a leave or jury duty without the employee’s written consent.

Return to work

When the leave or jury duty ends, an employee must be returned to his or her former position or to a comparable position.  It is the employer’s responsibility to contact the employee to make arrangements for the employee’s return to work.

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

If an employee’s child disappears in circumstances where it is likely that the disappearance is the result of a crime, the employee is entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave. The employee may take leave in different units of time with the employer’s consent.

The leave ends 14 days after the child is found alive, the date the child is found dead, (in which case the employee is entitled to leave respecting the death of a child), at the end of the 52 weeks off, or if the employee has taken time off in different units, the last day of the last unit of time.

The leave ends if it becomes probable that the child’s disappearance was not the result of a crime or the employee is charged with a crime in relation to the child’s disappearance.

Leave respecting death of child

If an employee’s child dies, the employee is entitled to up to 104 weeks of leave. The leave starts on the date of the child’s death or, in the case of a child who disappeared, on the date the child is found dead. The employee may take leave in different units of time with the employer’s consent.

The leave ends at the end of the 104 weeks off, or if the employee has taken time off in different units, the last day of the last unit of time.

The leave ends if the employee is charged with a crime in relation to the child’s death.

 

Manitoba

How long can employees be off on bereavement leave?

Under The Employment Standards Code, employees are allowed to take up to three days as bereavement leave to deal with the death of a family member.

Who can take bereavement leave?

Anyone employed for at least 30 days with the same employer is entitled to bereavement leave.

Who decides what type of leave an employee is taking?

Employees tell their employers they are needing to take a leave. The employer will need enough detail to show the time off work meets the requirements of the leave.

When employees request time off, the employer should ask whether they are advising of a leave available under The Employment Standards Code or asking for approval for time off. Employers do not control when employees can take a leave provided by law, but they do control other types of time off work.

Do employees need to be paid while on bereavement leave?

No. The legislation only requires an employer to provide time off and allow an employee to return to their job when the leave has ended. Employers are not required to pay wages during the leave. Employers can, and often do, give greater benefits than those provided for in the legislation.

Who are considered family members?

Family is defined very broadly for Employment Standards’ purposes. Children, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, spouses, common law spouses, brothers, sisters, step-brothers, step-sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews are all considered family members. The definition also includes those who are not related, but whom the employee considers to be like a close relative.

What must employees who take bereavement leave tell their employer?

Employees must tell their employer, as soon as possible, which days they will need off. Employers can request reasonable verification that the leave is needed.

What is reasonable verification?

Employers can request reasonable verification of the need for the leave.  Reasonable verification for bereavement leave might be an obituary from a local newspaper, for example. 

Can employees take part of a day as bereavement leave?

When an employee takes part of a day for bereavement leave, the employer may count that as a full day of the leave.  Employers do not have to accommodate an employee taking the leave in part days, as long as they allow the employee to take the leave.

Can employees be fired or laid off because they take bereavement leave?

No. Employers cannot terminate or lay off employees because they have taken or are planning to take a leave.

What happens when the leave ends?

Employees must be allowed to return to their job, or a comparable job with the same or greater benefits and pay, when they return from leave. Employers may not discriminate or attempt to punish employees for taking a leave.

Can employers give paid leave or more time off?

Yes. Employers can, and often do, give greater benefits than those provided for in the legislation. Many employers provide more days or will pay employees for their leave.

What happens to pension and other benefits while an employee is on leave?

Employment is considered continuous during a legislated leave of absence from work. This means an employee is still employed, though not earning wages for the period of the leave. When employees return from the leave, they are still entitled to any pension and other benefits they had before the leave. As well, their years of service include the time away on the leave.

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

Who can take a Leave Related to the Death or Disappearance of a Child?

Employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 30 days, and are a parent of child under 18 years old who has disappeared or died as a result of a crime under the Criminal Code.

Who is considered to be a parent for Leave Related to the Death or Disappearance of a Child?

For these leaves, a “parent” is defined as:

  • A parent of a child;
  • The spouse or common-law partner of a parent of a child;
  • A person with whom the child was placed for the purposes of adoption;
  • The guardian or foster parent of a child; or,
  • A person who has the care, custody or control of a child, and is considered to be like a close relative, whether or not they are related.

How long is the Leave Related to the Death or Disappearance of a Child?

The leave is available for employees for up to 52 weeks if they are a parent of a child who has disappeared as a result of a crime.  If the child has died as a result of a crime, the employee is entitled to take a leave of up to 104 weeks.   Employees can take the leave without the fear of job loss.

What must be provided for the leave?

Reasonable verification of the need for the leave must be provided to the employer as soon as possible. 

Do employees get paid when on leave?

No. Employers are not required to pay wages to employees while on leave. For all leaves, the legislation only requires employers to provide the time off and allow employees to return to their job when the leave has ended. Employers can, and often do, give greater benefits than those provided for in the legislation.

However, other federal programs may provide income replacement. Employees should contact the federal government to find out what types of leaves have income replacement.

The only exception under The Employment Standards Code where an employer is required to pay a portion of a leave is under the Domestic Violence Leave.

Are there programs to pay employees while on leave?

The federal government has income support programs to cover certain types of leave.  To learn more, call Service Canada toll-free at 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

How do employees start the leave?

The need for this type of leave is unpredictable. Generally, employees must give at least one pay period of notice before the leave and provide their employer with reasonable verification of the need for the leave as soon as possible.

What if an employee cannot give notice?

Employees are still entitled to the leave even if they are unable to give notice.

Who decides what type of leave an employee is taking?

Employees tell their employers they are needing to take a leave. The employer will need enough detail to show the time off work meets the requirements of the leave.

When employees request time off, the employer should ask whether they are advising of a leave available under The Employment Standards Code or asking for approval for time off. Employers do not control when employees can take a leave provided by law, but they do control other types of time off work.

What happens when the leave ends?

Employees must be returned to the position the employee occupied when the leave began or to a comparable position, with not less than the pay and benefits the employee earned immediately prior to the leave.

What if employees want to end Leave Related to the Death or Disappearance of a Child early?

Unless the employee and employer agree otherwise, an employee who wants to return to work earlier than the date the leave ends must give the employer written notice of at least one pay period.

What if the employee's job is no longer available?

Generally, employees should be returned to the job they had before the leave. However, if the job is no longer available, they must be given a similar position with the same or greater benefits and pay.

There may be some situations where employers do not have a position available for reasons completely unrelated to the leave. For example, employees who are on unpaid leave would not necessarily be protected from losing their jobs if the employer shut down part of their operations and reduced their workforce based on a seniority system.

Employers must show the leave has no impact on the decision to lay−off or terminate the employment.

What if the employer refuses to bring the employee back to work?

Employees must be allowed to return to their job, or comparable job, with the same or greater pay and benefits when they return from leave. Employees who have been refused by their employer can file a complaint with Employment Standards within six months after the date the employee should have been reinstated.

Will the information about the leave be confidential?

Unless it is required by law or the employee has given consent, employers cannot disclose information related to a leave except to other persons in the workplace, who need to know in order to carry out their duties.

What is a period of employment?

The length of time from when an employee starts working for an employer until the day the employment ends.

The period of employment also includes periods of temporary interruption in employment (a layoff, an unpaid leave) seasonal employment, and when an employee returns to work for the same employer after a break of less than two months.  Employees who work in a seasonal industry and return to work with the same employer each season have continuous service. Each consecutive season they return adds one more year of service to their total period of employment.

New Brunswick

In the event of the death of a person in a close family relationship, an employer must give an employee a leave of absence without pay of up to five consecutive days. Bereavement leave is to begin no later than the day of the funeral.

One of the following conditions will apply:

  • In the case of a first leave, the employee must have been employed for at least 6 months; or
  • In the case of a second or subsequent leave, at least 12 months have elapsed since the date the employee returned to work from his or her most recent leave.

An employee must give the employer at least 4 weeks notice in writing before the beginning of the leave. The notice must include the start date of the leave and the anticipated date that the employee will return to work. The employer may require the employee to provide a certificate from an official with the Reserves confirming that the employee is a reservist who is selected for service and, if possible, the expected start and end dates of the required service. The 4-week notice requirement may be waived under urgent circumstance such as a military call to assist in a natural disaster. In this case, the employee is required to give the employer notice of an intention to take a leave as soon as possible under the circumstances.

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

Eligibility

An employee who is the parent of a child under 18 years old who has died as the probable result of a crime is entitled to an unpaid leave of up to thirty-seven (37) weeks.

An employee who is the parent of a child who has disappeared as the probable result of a crime is entitled to an unpaid leave of up to thirty-seven (37) weeks.

An employee is not entitled to the leave if they are charged with the crime.

If both parents are employees of the same employer, they are both entitled to the leave.

Employees may end the leave early by giving the employer written notice before they wish to return to work.

Duration of leave

The period during which the employee may take the leave begins on the day that the death or disappearance occurs and ends thirty-seven (37) weeks after that day.

If the child is found alive within the leave period, the employee is entitled to continue taking leave for fourteen (14) days after the child is found.

If the child is found dead, or dies as a result of the circumstances of a disappearance, the employee is entitled to take up to thirty-seven (37) weeks of unpaid leave from the day the child is found dead.

Where it is no longer probable that a child’s death or disappearance is the result of a crime, a leave ends fourteen (14) days after that day, unless the employer and employee agree to an earlier return to work

Notice requirements

Employees must give their employers written notice of their intention to take a leave as soon as possible.

If possible, the information to be provided to the employer includes the anticipated commencement date and duration of the leave.

The employer may require the employee to provide evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances of the employee’s entitlement to the leave.

If circumstances beyond the employee’s control require a change in the duration of the leave, the employee shall advise the employer of the change. The total leave may not exceed thirty-seven (37) weeks.

The employee shall provide the employer with written notice as soon as possible that circumstances have changed.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Bereavement leave must be provided to an employee in the event of the death of the employees:

  • spouse
  • child
  • grandchild
  • mother or father
  • brother or sister
  • mother-in-law or father-in-law
  • grandparent
  • sister-in-law or brother-in-law
  • son-in-law or daughter-in-law

An employee who has been employed with the same employer for at least 30 days shall be given 3 days of bereavement leave consisting of 1 day paid leave and 2 days unpaid leave. If an employee has been employed for less than 30 days, the employee is entitled to 2 days of unpaid leave.

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

An employee who:

  • is the parent of a child who has disappeared or died and it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child disappeared or died as a result of a crime
  • has been employed by the same employer for at least 30 days

An employee does not qualify if they are charged with the crime necessitating that leave of absence.

A parent is:

  • a parent of a child
  • the spouse or cohabitating partner of a parent of a child
  • a person with whom a child has been placed for the purpose of adoption
  • a foster parent of a child
  • a person who has the care or custody of a child, and is considered to be like a close relative, whether or not that person is related to the child by blood or adoption

A parent may take up to 52 weeks in relation to the disappearance of a child and up to 104 weeks in relation to the death of a child; however, the employee must limit the duration of the leave to that which is reasonably necessary in the circumstances.

An employee must provide the employer with reasonable verification of the necessity of the leave as soon as possible.

An employee must give written notice to their employer at least 2 weeks before they intend to take the leave, unless there is a valid reason why that notice cannot be given. The employee must include the length of leave they intend to take.

Upon return to work an employee is to be placed in the same or similar position with duties, benefits and wages they had prior to taking crime-related child death or disappearance leave.

Unless the employer and employee agree otherwise, the period spent on crime-related child death or disappearance leave does not count with respect to the accumulation of time for the purposes of notice of termination, vacation entitlement, or other benefits under the Act.

Nova Scotia

Employees can take an unpaid leave of up to five working days in a row if their spouse, parent, guardian, child/child under their care, grandparent, grandchild, sister, brother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law dies. 

Employees must give their employers as much notice as possible that they will take this leave.

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

Crime-related death or disappearance leave is an unpaid leave for parents and guardians who are facing the death or disappearance of their child (under 18 years of age) resulting from a probable crime. 

To qualify for the leave, the employee must have worked with the same employer for at least 3 months.  The employee is not entitled to the leave if charged with the crime.

An employee can to take up to 52 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave if their child has disappeared and up to 104 consecutive weeks if their child has died.

Where a missing child is found alive during the 52 week leave period, the employee can continue the leave for another 14 days.  If the child is found dead, the disappearance leave ends immediately and the employee can start 104 weeks of leave related to the death of the child.

Where the death or disappearance no longer seems to be the result of a crime, the employee can continue the leave for another 14 days and the employee must give the employer notice in writing of their return to work as soon as possible.

The employee can end the leave early by giving the employer 14 days’ written notice.

Employees who take a crime-related death or disappearance leave may qualify for income support through a federal government grant. For more information on this grant please contact Service Canada.

Notice

The employee must let the employer know in writing as soon as possible of their intention to take the leave.  Where the leave must begin before written notice can be given, the employee must advise the employer of the leave as soon as possible.

The employee must also give the employer a written plan outlining the period that they will take the leave, which can be changed during the leave period with the employer’s agreement or by giving the employer 4 weeks’ written notice.

The employer can ask for reasonable evidence of the death or disappearance of the child and evidence showing it was likely due to a crime.

Ontario

Most employees have the right to take up to 10 days of job-protected leave each calendar year due to illness, injury, death and certain emergencies and urgent matters. This is known as personal emergency leave (PEL). Special rules apply to some occupations.

Employees are entitled to up to 10 personal emergency leave days per year as soon as they start working for an employer. The first two days of the leave in each calendar year are paid if the employee has been employed for one week or longer.

An employee who missed part of a day to take the leave would be entitled to any wages they actually earned while working, in addition to personal emergency leave pay for any leave taken.

Reasons a personal emergency leave may be taken

An employee who is entitled to personal emergency leave can take up to 10 days of leave each calendar year due to:

  • personal illness, injury or medical emergency
    or
  • death, illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to the following family members:
  • spouse (includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same or opposite genders)
  • 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
  • spouse of the employee's child
  • brother or sister of the employee
  • relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance

Illness, injury or medical emergency

An employee can take personal emergency leave for illnesses, injuries and medical emergencies for themselves or a specified family member listed above. It does not matter whether the illness, injury or medical emergency was caused by the employee or by external factors beyond their control.

Generally, employees are entitled to take the leave for pre-planned (elective) surgery if it is for an illness or injury, even though it is scheduled ahead of time and not a medical “emergency.”

Employees cannot take the leave for cosmetic surgery that isn’t medically necessary or is unrelated to an illness or injury.

Urgent matter

An employee can also take personal emergency leave because of an “urgent matter” concerning any of the family members listed above. An urgent matter is an event that is unplanned or out of the employee’s control, and can cause serious negative consequences, including emotional harm, if not responded to.

Personal emergency leave and contracts that provide paid sick or bereavement leave

If an employment contract, including a collective agreement, provides a greater right or benefit than the personal emergency leave standard under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), then the terms of the contract apply instead of the standard.

If the contract does not provide a greater right or benefit, then the personal emergency leave standard in the ESA applies to the employee.

An interaction between personal emergency leave and other leaves

PEL, family caregiver leave, family medical leave, domestic or sexual violence leave, critical illness leave, child death leave and crime-related child disappearance leave are different types of leaves. The purposes of the leaves, their length and eligibility criteria are different.

An employee may be entitled to more than one leave for the same event. Each leave is separate and the right to each leave is independent of any right an employee may have to the other leave(s). This means that a single absence can only count against one statutory leave, even if the event that triggered it is a qualifying event under more than one leave.

Length of personal emergency leave

Employees are entitled to up to 10 full days of job-protected personal emergency leave every calendar year, whether they are employed on a full or part-time basis.

There is no pro-rating of the 10-day entitlement. An employee who begins work partway through a calendar year is still entitled to 10 days of leave for the rest of that year.

Employees cannot carry over unused personal emergency leave days to the next calendar year. The 10 days of leave do not have to be taken consecutively. Employees can take the leave in part days, full days or in periods of more than one day. If an employee takes only part of a day as personal emergency leave, the employer can count it as a full day of leave.

Eligibility for personal emergency leave pay

An employee who has been employed for at least a week with an employer is entitled to be paid for the first two days of personal emergency leave taken in a calendar year.

A new employee employed for less than a week may take unpaid days of leave. However, the first and second days of leave taken after that first week must be paid if they are taken in the same calendar year.

Notice requirements

Generally, an employee must inform the employer before starting the leave that he or she will be taking a personal emergency leave of absence.

If an employee has to begin the leave before notifying the employer, the employee must inform the employer as soon as possible after starting it. Notice does not have to be given in writing. Oral notice is sufficient.

While an employee is required to tell the employer in advance before starting a leave (or, if this is not feasible, as soon as possible after starting the leave), the employee will not lose the right to take the leave if they fail to do so.

Proof of entitlement

An employer may require an employee to provide evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” that they are eligible for personal emergency leave. However, employers cannot require employees to provide a medical note from a physician, registered nurse or psychologist.

What will be reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all of the facts of the situation, such as the duration of the leave, whether there is a pattern of absences, whether any evidence is available and the cost of the evidence. For example, if an employee takes the leave because of the death of a person included in the group of family members covered by personal emergency leave, it would be reasonable for an employer to request a copy of an obituary or a death certificate.

The prohibition in the ESA against requiring a note from a physician, registered nurse or psychologist applies only with respect to providing evidence that the employee is entitled to personal emergency leave. There may be some situations outside of the scope of personal emergency leave where an employer may need medical documentation in order to, for example, accommodate an employee, satisfy return to work obligations. The ESA does not prohibit employers from requiring a note for these sorts of other purposes.

Medical notes because of personal illness, injury or medical emergency or the illness, injury or medical emergency of a specified relative

An employer cannot require an employee to provide a medical note from a qualified health practitioner when the employee is taking the leave because of personal illness, injury or medical emergency or the illness, injury or medical emergency of a specified relative.

If it is reasonable in the circumstances for the employer to require the employee who took leave for their own illness, injury or medical emergency to provide a note from an individual who is not a physician, registered nurse or psychologist, the employer can ask only for the following information:

  • the duration or expected duration of the absence
  • the date the employee was seen by a health care professional
  • whether the patient was examined in person by the health care professional issuing the note

Employers cannot ask for information about the diagnosis or treatment of the employee’s medical condition.

In addition to being prohibited from requiring the employee to provide a medical note with respect to a leave taken because of the illness, injury or medical emergency of a relative, the employer cannot require the employee to give details of the relative’s medical condition. The employer may only require the employee to disclose the name of the relative, and their relationship to the employee, and a statement that the absence was required because of the relative’s injury, illness or medical emergency.

Rights during leave

Employees who take personal emergency leave are entitled to the same rights as employees who take pregnancy or parental leave.

Special rules regarding personal emergency leave

Professional employees

Certain professionals may not take PEL where it would constitute an act of professional misconduct or a dereliction of professional duty (e.g. health practitioners).

Automobile manufacturing/parts warehousing/marshalling employees

Employees who work in automobile manufacturing, automobile parts manufacturing or warehousing, or automobile marshalling have special rules for PEL. These rules apply whether the workplace is unionized or not unionized. These employees are entitled to take up to seven days of leave within a calendar year in relation to their own illness, injury or medical emergency, or the illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter of a specified family member. In addition, these employees may take up to three days of PEL because of the death of a specified family member (per family member); there is no limit on the number of instances the employee may qualify for bereavement leave of up to three days.

An employee will not be entitled to PEL pay (although they will still be entitled to take unpaid leave) if the employee, as part of their employment contract, is entitled to receive two or more paid days off work per year that are:

  • Vacation, in excess of what the employee already gets under the ESA
  • Holidays (including non-ESA public holidays like the August Civic holiday, or company holidays), in excess of what the employee already gets under the ESA, or
  • For personal illness or for personal medical appointments.

Construction employees

If a construction employee receives at least 0.8% of their regular wages or hourly rate as personal emergency pay on each pay cheque, the employee is not entitled to PEL pay. However, they will still be entitled to take unpaid PEL.

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

Child death leave is an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence. It provides up to 104 weeks with respect to the death of a child.

Before January 1, 2018, an employee whose child had died as a result of a crime or the probable result of a crime was entitled to be on crime-related child death or disappearance leave. If an employee was on a crime-related child death or disappearance leave before January 1, 2018, an employee in that situation would continue on the leave for a maximum period of 104 weeks.

Eligibility

Employees who have been employed by their employer for at least six consecutive months and who are covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) are entitled to child death leave if a child of the employee dies.

An employee is not entitled to this leave if the child died as a result of a crime and the employee is charged with the crime, or if it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child was a party to the crime.

“Child” means a child, step-child, child under the legal guardianship of the employee or foster child who is under 18 years of age.

Generally speaking, crime means an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Federal income support grant

An employee who takes time away from work because of the crime-related death of their child may be eligible for the Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant.

Time of a child death leave

A leave for the death of a child must be taken within the 105-week period that begins in the week the child died. The leave must be taken in a single period.

Sharing child death leave

The total amount of child death leave taken by one or more employees for the same death (or deaths that are the result of the same event) is 104 weeks.

The employees can take the leave at the same time or at different times. The sharing requirement applies whether or not the employees work for the same employer.

Notice requirements: Advance notice and a written plan

An employee must inform the employer in writing that they will be taking a child death leave and must provide the employer with a written plan that indicates the weeks in which they will take the leave.

If an employee has to begin such a leave before notifying the employer, they must inform the employer in writing and provide the employer with a written plan as soon as possible after beginning the leave.

An employee who does not give notice does not lose their right to the leave.

Change in employee’s plan

An employee may take a leave at a time other than that indicated in their original plan provided to their employer so long as the new dates meet the restrictions of the ESA and,

the employee requests permission from the employer to do so in writing and the employer grants permission in writing,
or

the employee provides the employer with four weeks’ written notice before the change takes place.

Evidence

An employer may require an employee who takes a child death leave to provide reasonable evidence of the employee’s entitlement to the leave.

Rights during and at the end of child death leave

Employers do not have to pay wages when an employee is on a child death leave.

Employees who take child death leave are entitled to the same rights as employees who take pregnancy or parental leave. For example, an employer cannot threaten, fire or penalize in any other way an employee for taking, planning on taking, being eligible or being in a position to become eligible to take a child death leave. See “Rights during pregnancy and parental leaves.

Prince Edward Island

In the event of the death of an immediate family member, an employee is entitled to one day paid bereavement leave and up to two days unpaid bereavement leave.

Immediate family includes:

  • spouse
  • child
  • parent
  • brother or sister of the employee
  • In the event of the death of a member of the employee's extended family, an employee is entitled to three days unpaid bereavement leave. Extended family includes:
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • brother-in-law or sister-in-law
  • mother-in-law or father-in-law
  • son-in-law or daughter-in-law
  • aunt or uncle of the employee 

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

An employee is entitled to an unpaid leave of absence of up to 52 weeks if the employee’s child disappears as a probable result of a crime. If an employee’s child dies as a probable result of a crime, an employee is entitled to an unpaid leave of absence of up to 104 weeks. A child is someone who is under the age of 18 years.

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible for the leave, an employee must be:

  • employed for a continuous period of at least three months by the same employer, and
  • is a parent of the child. A parent includes someone who is an adoptive/foster parent; a guardian or a spouse of a parent of the child.

When does the leave begin?

The leave begins on the first day of the work week when either the child disappears or dies as a probable result of a crime. An employee must take the leave in intervals of at least one week. An employee is not entitled to this leave if the employee is charged with a crime related to the disappearance or death of their child.

In the event of the child’s disappearance, the leave ends on the last day of the work week after:

  • 14 days have elapsed since the child is found alive;
  • 14 days have elapsed since circumstances have changed and it no longer seems probable the child’s disappearance was the result of a crime;
  • 52 weeks have elapsed since the first day of the work week when the child disappeared; or
  • the child is found dead.

In the event of the child’s death, the leave ends on the last day of the work week after:

  • 14 days have elapsed since circumstances have changed when it no longer seems probable the child’s death was the result of a crime; or
  • 104 weeks have elapsed since the first day of the work week when the child was found dead.


The total amount of unpaid leave taken by two or more employees cannot exceed 52 weeks if the child has disappeared and 104 weeks if the child has died.

What happens when the leave is finished?

When an employee returns to work following the end of the leave, the employee must be accepted back into the same position or a comparable one with no loss of wages or benefits.
An employee must provide reasonable documentation to show entitlement to the leave if the employer makes a written request.

Quebec

An employee may be absent from work for:

  • 5 days, including 1 day with pay (2 with pay after January 1st 2019), in the case of the death or funeral:
    • of his spouse
    • of his child
    • of the child of his spouse
    • of his father or mother
    • of his brother or sister.
    • 1 day without pay in the case of the death or funeral:
    • of his son-in-law or daughter-in-law
    • of his grandparents
    • of one of his grandchildren
    • of the father or mother of his spouse
    • of the brother or sister of his spouse.
    • 104 days for the death of his minor child
    • An employee of the clothing industry may be absent from work for:
    • 5 days, including 3 days with pay, in the case of the death or funeral:
    • of his spouse
    • of his child
    • of the child of his spouse
    • of his father or mother
    • of his brother or sister.
    • 1 day with pay in the case of the death or funeral:
    • of his grandparents
    • of the father or mother of his spouse.
    • 1 day without pay in the case of the death or funeral:
    • of his son-in-law or daughter-in-law
    • of one of his grandchildren
    • of the brother or sister of his spouse.

The employee must notify his employer of his absence as soon as possible.

Disappearance

An employee may be absent, without pay, for a maximum of 104 weeks following the disappearance of his minor child.

If the child is found alive, the employee must return to work within a maximum of 11 days.

an employee who is absent because his minor child has disappeared is entitled to up to 104 weeks’ leave if the minor child is found dead.

Suicide

In the case of the suicide of the spouse or child of the employee, the latter is entitled to a maximum leave of 52 weeks, without pay.

Victim of a Crime

If the spouse or child of the employee dies as the result of a crime, the employee may benefit from a leave without pay of up to 104 weeks.

Exceptions

An employee who is on vacation, on maternity, paternity or parental leave at the time of the death or funeral is not entitled to the days of leave granted for a death or a funeral.

Saskatchewan

When a member of an employee’s immediate family dies, an employee, with at least 13 weeks of employment with an employer, is entitled to bereavement leave.

The leave can be for up to five days and must be taken within the period beginning one week before and ending one week after the funeral relating to the death to which the leave is granted.

An employee's immediate family is defined as:

  • the employee’s spouse, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or the spouse of the brother or sister; or
  • the employee’s spouse’s parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or the spouse of the brother or sister.

Leave related to the death or disappearance of a child

Crime-related child death or disappearance leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 104 weeks. A parent with at least 13 weeks of employment service is entitled to this leave if their child has disappeared or died due to a crime related incident. The parent must also provide notice to the employer as soon as possible before the leave begins.

Yukon

The employee is entitled to and shall be granted bereavement leave without pay for up to one week provided that the funeral of the member of the employee’s immediate family falls within that week.

If the employee is designated by the family of a deceased member of a First Nation as the person responsible for organizing the funeral potlatch for the deceased, the employee is entitled to bereavement leave.

Leave related to the death or disappearance of a child

This leave entitles a parent to a leave of absence without pay for up to 52 weeks in the case of a child who has disappeared as a result of a crime. This leave entitles a parent to a leave of absence without pay for up to 104 weeks in the case of a child who has died as a result of a crime.

The employee must have completed six (6) months of continuous employment with the same employer to qualify for this leave. The employee must provide two weeks written notice to their employer prior to starting the leave unless the circumstances necessitate a shorter period.

The leave may be shared by two or more employees in respect of the same death or disappearance of a child or the same children who die or disappear as a result of the same crime.

Northwest Territories

Does an employee get time off work when a family member dies?

Yes. If a member of the employee’s “immediate family” dies, the employee may take three to seven days off work to attend a family member's funeral or memorial.  The length of time depends on where the service takes place. Employees do not have to be paid for the time they miss work.

Section 31 of the Employment Standards Act.

What is the definition of a family member?

A family member is defined as;

  • a spouse of the employee,
  • a child of the employee or a child of the employee’s spouse,
  • a parent of the employee or a spouse of the parent. 

In Section 12.1 of the Employment Standards Regulations the definition is extended to include;

  • a brother or sister of the employee or the employee’s spouse,
  • a grandparent of the employee or the employee’s spouse,
  • a grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse,
  • any relative who resides with the employee.

Reference: Section 1 of the Employment Standards Act and 12.1 of the Employment Standards Regulations.