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We all have responsibilities outside of work. Those responsibilities can sometimes include taking care of important people in our lives.

If you choose to take a family caregiver leave, you must abide by certain requirements outlined in the Employment Standards Act.

Unfortunately, a loved one may become ill and you may find yourself in a situation where taking care of that loved one and juggling work is simply unmanageable.  This blog discusses employees’ entitlement to a family caregiver leave, which is for those employees who are required to take time off work to provide care and support for a family member.

Pursuant to section 49.3 of the Employment Standards Act, employees are entitled to an 8 week leave of absence per calendar year, without pay, to provide care and support to the following people:

  1. An employee’s spouse;
  2. A parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
  3. A child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
  4. A grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse;
  5. The spouse of a child of the employee;
  6. The employee’s brother or sister;
  7. A relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance; or,
  8. Any individual prescribed as a family member for the purpose of this section.

A qualified health practitioner must issue a certificate stating that the person needing care has a serious medical condition. A serious medical condition may include a condition that is chronic or episodic.  If you choose to take a family caregiver leave, you must also abide by certain requirements. These include:

  • Advising your employer in writing that you are taking a family caregiver leave;
  • Writing to your employer as soon as possible after beginning the leave, if you began your leave before advising your employer; and,
  • Providing a copy of the certificate from a qualified health practitioner as soon as possible, if requested by your employer.

It is also important to note that if you take any part of a week as leave, your employer may deem that you have taken one full week of leave.

Finally, be mindful that a family caregiver leave may not be the best option in your situation. If you find yourself considering whether you should be taking a family caregiver leave, schedule a meeting with one of our employment lawyers to discuss your specific employment circumstances, and to develop a plan tailored for you.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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