Compassionate Care Leave

Employees in Canada have a right to take a job-protected leave when caring for gravely ill family members. Each province has their own employment standards legislation that protects employees from termination when on this form of leave. It is commonly referred to as compassionate care leave.

You must know the rules regarding compassionate care leave in your jurisdiction to ensure you do not violate any laws. This could open you up to legal consequences.

In this guide, we’ll explain what compassionate care leave is, who it is applied to, and how it is implemented in each province and federally.

What is Compassionate Care Leave?

Compassionate care leave is job-protected leave to provide care or support to a gravely ill family member. It is reserved for employees who have a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

Family members are defined broadly within employment standards legislation It includes, but is not limited to:

  • Spouse or common-law partner.
  • Child or child of the spouse or common-law partner.
  • Siblings.
  • Parent or foster parent. • Grandparent. • Close relatives.

How Long is Compassionate Care Leave?

Generally, employees may take a maximum leave between 27 to 28 weeks in a 52-week period, depending on the jurisdiction. However, the length of time an employee can take when varies in each jurisdiction.

Employees may take leave multiple times within the 52-week period. For example, an employee can take 10 weeks under compassionate care leave, return to work, and then take another 16 weeks later in the year.

Are All Employees Eligible for Compassionate Leave?

To qualify for compassionate leave, employees must provide you with a signed medical certificate that states the family member is at significant risk of death. The risk must be occurring within the next 26 weeks (28 weeks in New Brunswick).

Is Compassionate Care Leave Paid?

Compassionate care leave is unpaid, job-protected time off. Employers are not required to pay their employees during this type of leave. However, you may choose to pay any of your staff.

Can you Terminate an Employee on Compassionate Care Leave?

Employees on compassionate care leave cannot be terminated or laid off unless the business is closing.

They are also considered employed during their leave for the calculation of vacation entitlements and termination. Employees who are seeking financial assistance may apply at Service Canada for compassionate care leave benefits under the federal government’s Employment Insurance (EI) program.

The Law on Compassionate Care Leave in Canada

As an employer, you must familiarize yourself with the federal or provincial laws surrounding compassionate care leave. You have a duty and responsibility to act legally.

Compassionate care leave for federally non-unionized workplaces is governed by the Canada Labour Code. Examples of these workplaces are:

  • Air transportation such as airports and airlines.
  • Television and broadcast companies.
  • Banks.

A federally regulated employee is entitled to a leave of absence for up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

The employee must give you notice of compassionate leave and how much time they are taking off.

The leave ends after 28 weeks, if the gravely ill family member has died, or if the 52-week period is over. You must reinstate the employee in the same position or a comparable position with the same compensation and benefits.

Provincial Compassionate Care Leave Laws

As an employer, you must familiarize yourself with the provincial care leave laws for the province in which you’re based. Let’s discuss them further.

Compassionate Care Leave Alberta

The Alberta Employment Standards Code states that eligible –are entitled to up to 27 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. However, they must have been employed for at least 90 days.

The employee must give you at least two weeks’ written notice that they are taking compassionate care leave. They must also advise you when they intend to return to work.

When the employee is ready to return to work, they must provide you with at least one week’s written notice. You must reinstate the employee to their original position upon their return. If this isn’t possible, they should return to a comparable position with the same compensation and benefits.

Compassionate Care Leave B.C.

The B.C. Employment Standards Act states that all eligible employees are entitled to up to 27 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

In B.C., employees are not required to provide notice. However, they must provide a medical certificate as soon as practicable.

Compassionate Care Leave Ontario

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act refers to compassionate care leave as ‘family medical leave.’ Employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

They must inform you that they are taking family medical leave before commencing their leave or as soon as possible. If an employee does not provide notice, the employee does not lose their right to family medical leave.

Employees are also entitled to ‘family caregiver leave’ which is available to all employees to look after a family member who has a serious medical condition without significant risk of death. Employees may take up to 8 weeks under the family caregiver leave.

Compassionate Care Leave Manitoba

The Manitoba Employment Standards Code states that eligible employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. However, they must have been employed for at least 90 days.

The employee must give you notice of at least one pay period unless circumstances require a shorter notice period.

If the employee ends their compassionate leave early, they must provide you with at least 48 hours’ notice of when they intend to return to work.

Compassionate Care Leave Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Employment Act states that eligible employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. However, they must have been employed for at least 13 weeks.

The employee must give you notice as far in advance as possible.

If the leave is less than 60 days, you must reinstate the employee in the same position before the leave. If the leave is greater than 60 days, you may reinstate the employee in a comparable position with the same compensation and benefits.

Compassionate Care Leave Newfoundland & Labrador

The Newfoundland & Labrador Labour Standards Act states that eligible employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. However, they must have been employed for at least 30 days.

The employee must give you at least two weeks’ written notice of leave unless circumstances require a shorter notice period.

You can request a copy of the medical certificate showing proof of the gravely ill family member. This must be provided to you with it within 15 days of the request.

Compassionate Care Leave Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Labour Standards Code states that eligible employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. However, they must have been employed for at least three months.

The employee is not required to provide you with any prior written notice of leave compared to some other provinces.

Compassionate Care Leave New Brunswick

The New Brunswick Employment Standards Act states that all employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

Get Advice on how to Compassionate Care Leave with BrightHR

Every employer experience staff taking time off for long periods due to family illnesses. Employees have the right to take time off work according to employment standards legislation. You must familiarize yourself with the various forms of job-protected leave to ensure compliance.

Failure to comply with job-protected leave rules may lead to fines or even lawsuits.

If you need assistance with interpreting compassionate care leave or other forms of job-protected leave, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.

Contact us on 1 888 220 4924 or book a demo today.

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