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The Canada Labour Code provides federally regulated employees with a number of leaves as listed below. No employer shall dismiss, suspend, lay off, demote or discipline an employee because they have applied to take such leave or they are on a leave or have taken the leave. For certain types of leaves, this prohibition extends where the employee has the intention to take it.
The employee is entitled to sick leave protection of up to 17 weeks if they have worked for the same employer for at least 3 consecutive months. The employee must provide a medical certificate if their employer requests one—in writing—within 15 days of their return to work.
Leave for work-related illness and injury
Employers must subscribe to a plan that will replace the wages for this kind of leave at a rate equivalent to that provided by provincial or territorial workers' compensation in the province where the employee lives.
Long-term disability plans
An employer has the option of providing long-term disability benefits to its employees to protect them against the possibility of income loss due to a medical event that would make an employee unable to work for an extended period of time.
For general information, please consult Sick leave, work-related illness and injury leave, and long-term disability plans (Publication 7 - Labour standards).
Maternity-related reassignment and leave
An employee who is pregnant or nursing can ask their employer to modify their job or reassign them if continuing to do their present work poses a risk to their health, the health of their unborn child, or the health of their baby. This request must be accompanied by a medical certificate indicating how long the risk will likely last and what activities/conditions the employee should avoid.
Maternity and parental leave
All female employees are entitled to up to 17 weeks of maternity leave if they have completed 6 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer before their leave begins.
She can take this leave any time during the period that begins 13 weeks before the expected date of delivery and ends 17 weeks after the actual delivery date.
Maternity leave can be extended up to the day on which the child is born if the birth has not occurred within the 17-week leave period.
If the employee chooses not to take maternity leave, their employer may not compel her to take such leave unless it can be shown that she is unable to perform the essential functions of her job.
Natural and adoptive parents are also eligible for up to 63 weeks of parental leave under the same conditions as those for maternity leave.
Parents may share parental leave in order to access an additional 8 weeks of leave. Parents who share the parental leave have access to 71 weeks of parental leave.
They can take this leave any time during the 78-week period starting the day the child is born or the day the child comes into their care.
Combining maternity and parental leave
Female employees who have given birth can take both maternity and parental leave, but only 1 period of time for each type of leave. If they choose to take parental leave, they must do so in one continuous period of time that is not interrupted with periods of work.
The combined maternity and parental leaves for one parent cannot exceed 78 weeks.
Parents who share the parental leave have access to a combined 86 weeks of maternity and parental leave (only the parental leave may be shared).
Hospitalization of the child during leave
If the child is hospitalized shortly after birth or adoption, the maternity or parental leave can be interrupted.
The period within which the employee can take the maternity or parental leave will be extended by the number of weeks during which the child is hospitalized.
However, regardless of the duration of the hospitalization, maternity leave must end no more than 52 weeks after the date of delivery and parental leave must end no later than 104 weeks after the day on which the child is born or comes into the employee's actual care.
Interruption of parental leave for other leaves
It is possible for an employee to interrupt their parental leave in order to take:
- compassionate care leave
- leave related to critical illness
- leave related to death or disappearance of a child
- sick leave
- work-related illness and injury leave
- reservist leave (except for the purposes of annual training)
Parental leave is to resume immediately after the other leave ends, but cannot extend beyond 104 weeks after the day on which the child is born or comes into the employee's care.
For general information, please consult Maternity-related reassignment and leave, maternity leave and parental leave (Publication 5 - Labour standards), as well as Pregnant and nursing employees (Publication 5 - Health and safety) in the Occupational Health and Safety series and Division VII of Part III of the Canada Labour Code.
For technical guidance, please consult Maternity leave (IPG-017).
Compassionate care leave
An employee can take up to 28 weeks of compassionate care leave to look after a family member who is gravely ill.
This leave of absence can be shared by 2 or more employees when looking after the same family member, but the total amount of leave taken by all cannot equal more than 28 weeks within the 52-week period.
Interruption of compassionate care leave for other leaves
It is possible for an employee to interrupt their compassionate care leave in order to take sick leave or work-related illness and injury leave.
Compassionate care leave is to resume immediately after the other leave ends, but cannot extend beyond 52 weeks after the day on which the leave commenced.
For general information, please consult Compassionate care leave (Publication 5A - Labour standards).
Leave related to critical illness
An employee, who is a family member of a critically ill child or adult is eligible to take up to 37 weeks of leave to provide care or support to the child and up to 17 weeks of leave to provide care or support to the adult.
If 2 or more children of an employee are critically ill, the employee is eligible for separate leaves of 37 weeks with respect to each affected child.
Interruption of leave related to critical illness for other leaves
It is possible for an employee to interrupt their leave related to critical illness in order to take sick leave or work-related illness and injury leave.
Leave related to critical illness is to resume immediately after the other leave ends, but cannot extend beyond 52 weeks after the leave commenced.
For general information, please consult Leave related to critical illness (Publication 5B - Labour standards).
Employees are entitled to paid bereavement leave for the death of an immediate family member, provided the employee has worked for their employer for 3 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.
For general information, please consult Bereavement leave (Publication 6 - Labour Standards).
For this provision, where the collective agreement provides rights and benefits as favourable as or better than the minimum standards set by the Code, and provides for third party settlement of disputes, the requirements of the Code do not apply.
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 leave in the case of a missing child, and up to 104 weeks of 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 2 or more children of an employee disappear or are murdered as a result of the same event, the employee is eligible for only 1 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.
Information about Federal income support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant may be obtained from Service Canada by visiting their website, calling their toll free number at 1-877-842-5601 or visiting a Service Canada Centre.
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.
For general information, please consult Leave related to death or disappearance (Publication 5C - Labour standards).
An employee is allowed to take a leave of absence without pay from their civilian employment to take part in annual training or in certain military operations in Canada or abroad that are designated by the Minister of National Defence. This leave is also available if they are required to train or to report for duty under the National Defence Act.
For general information, please consult Reservist leave (Publication 15 - Labour standards).
For general information on Reservist leave please visit Canadian Forces Liaison Council.
Paid leave of absence
The Canada Labour Code does not provide for paid leaves of absence relating to sick leave, maternity and parental leave, compassionate care leave, leave related to critical illness of a child and leave related to death or disappearance of a child. However, the employee may be entitled to such paid leave through the Employment Insurance benefits under the Employment Insurance Act. For additional information, please visit the Service Canada.
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