Employees are entitled to a leave of absence in Ontario. The types of leave of absence available for employees is outlined in Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (“ESA”). Leaves of absence can range from 2 days for bereavement leave and up to 104 weeks for child death leave or crime-related child disappearance leave. The length of the leave available depends on your circumstances and eligibility for certain types of leave.
Employees taking an ESA-compliant leave of absence are job-protected. The employee is entitled to return to their position after the leave or to a comparable position if the job no longer exists. The employee will continue to be credited for length of service and seniority. Employees also remain eligible for benefit plans.
The chart below outlines the different leaves of absence available, the duration of the leave, if the leave is paid, eligibility requirements, and notice requirements to give your employer.
|Type of Leave of Absence||Maximum Per Year||Eligibility Requirements||Paid Leave?||Notice Required|
|Pregnancy Leave||17 weeks||Started employment at least 13 weeks before the date the baby is expected to be born||No||2 weeks’ written notice|
|Parental Leave||61-63 weeks||Employed for at least 13 weeks before commencing the parental leave||No||2 weeks’ written notice|
|Bereavement Leave||2 days||Death of certain family members||No||Oral or written notice|
|Sick Leave||3 days||Personal illness, injury, or medical emergency||No||Oral or written notice|
|Family Responsibility Leave||3 days||Illness, injury, medical emergency, or urgent matter relating to certain relatives||No||Oral or written notice|
|Family Caregiver Leave||8 weeks||All employees, whether full-time, part-time, permanent, or term contract, who are covered by the ESA, may be entitled to family caregiver leave.||No||Written notice|
|Critical Illness Leave||17-37 weeks||To provide care or support to a critically ill minor child or adult who is a family member of the employee||No||Written notice|
|Child Death Leave||104 Weeks||Employed for at least 6 consecutive months||No||Written notice and a timeline for return must be provided|
|Crime-related Child Disappearance Leave||104 weeks||Employed for at least six consecutive months||No||Written notice and a timetable for return must be provided|
|Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave||10 days, or 15 weeks||Employed for at least 13 consecutive weeks||First 5 days paid, remainder unpaid||Oral or written notice|
|Organ Donor Leave||13 weeks, and then another 13 week extension||Employed for at least 13 weeks||No||2 weeks’ written notice|
|Reservist leave||Unlimited||Employees who are reservists have a right to an unpaid leave of absence if they will not be performing the duties of their position due to deployment or training||No||4 weeks’ written notice|
|Family Medical Leave||28 weeks||Family medical leave may be taken to provide care or support to certain family members and people who consider the employee to be like a family member in respect of whom a qualified health practitioner has issued a certificate indicating that they have a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks.||No||Written notice|
|Jury Duty Leave||Unlimited||The Ontario Juries Act requires employers to grant time off for employees who are summoned for jury duty.||No||Written notice|
Are Leave of Absences Paid or Unpaid?
Most of the leaves of absence outlined above are unpaid, except for the first five days of the domestic violence or sexual assault leave. However, employers may choose to pay for certain leaves, and those agreements may be subject to conditions as negotiated between the parties.
How Do I Request a Leave of Absence From My Employer?
There is no set form that needs to be filled out for an employee to take a leave of absence. The employee should generally give written notice of the leave, and the notice may be an email or a letter describing:
- the type of leave requested
- the reason for the leave.
Other employers may have forms available for leave requests, and if applicable the employee may use a company-provided form.
How to Take a Leave of Absence From Work Due to Stress
In Ontario, employees have the right to prioritize their health and well-being. This includes taking time off work for stress leave when necessary. The ESA entitles employees to various unpaid leaves of absence, including sick leave. While the sick leave provision allows employees to take a leave of absence due to personal illness, injury, or medical emergency, this leave can also be taken as stress leave because of burnout, stress, or anxiety. For more information, please review Stress Leave Ontario – Know Your Rights.
Can Employees Take Leaves of Absence for Other Reasons?
If a leave is taken for a reason other than those outlined by the ESA, then the employee’s job is not protected by law, and they will not be entitled to the guarantee of returning to their job after said leave.
However, if an employee requests a leave of absence for a reason other than those in the ESA—such as time off to complete their education—the employee and employer can agree to specific terms for that leave. The parties may wish to document their agreement in writing and outline the rights and obligations during the leave and upon return.
If you are considering taking a leave of absence or taking stress leave, our experienced team of employment lawyers at Monkhouse Law can help. Monkhouse Law is an employment law firm located in Toronto with a focus on employee issues. Give us a call at 416-907-9249 or fill out this quick form. We offer a free 30-minute phone consultation.