Types of leaves offered to federally regulated employees

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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The Canada Labour Code provides federally regulated employees with a number of leaves as listed below. The Code establishes minimum requirements. If a collective agreement or arrangement exists providing better protections, the most favorable provisions applied.

No employer shall:

For certain types of leaves, this prohibition extends where the employee intends to take it.

Medical leave

All employees are entitled to medical leave protection of up to 17 weeks. If a medical leave of absence is 3 days or longer, the employer may require that the employee provide a certificate issued by a health care practitioner. This certificate must certify that the employee was incapable of working for the period of time that they were absent from work. The Code does not provide for paid medical leave (see Unpaid leaves of absence on this page).

Leave for work-related illness and injury

Any employee who has suffered a work-related illness or injury is entitled to leave. Employers must subscribe to a plan that will replace the wages for this kind of leave. This rate will be at a rate equivalent to that provided by provincial or territorial workers' compensation in the employee’s province of permanent residence. Where reasonably practicable, an employer shall return an employee to work after a work-related illness or injury. In certain circumstances, the employer may reassign an employee to a comparable position after such an absence.

Interruption of other leaves for medical leave and work-related illness and injury leave

It is possible for an employee to interrupt other leaves in order to take medical leave or work-related illness and injury leave.

The other leaves are:

  • parental leave
  • compassionate care leave
  • leave related to critical illness, and
  • leave related to death or disappearance

In such a case, the other leave resumes immediately after the medical leave or work-related illness and injury leave ends.

For more information, please refer to the appropriate section of this page or please consult the leave publications.

Long-term disability plans

An employer can offer 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 Medical leave, work-related illness and injury leave, and long-term disability plans (Publication 7 - Labour standards).

Maternity-related reassignment and leave, maternity leave and parental leave

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 include a certificate from a healthcare practitioner. This certificate must indicate how long the risk will likely last and what activities/conditions the employee should avoid. An employer must examine the request in consultation with the employee. Where reasonably practicable, modify the employee’s job functions or reassign her to another position.

Maternity leave

All female employees are entitled to up to 17 weeks of maternity leave. 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 extend up to the day on which the child is born if the birth has not occurred within the 17-week leave period. The Code does not provide for paid maternity leave (see Unpaid leaves of absence on this page).

A pregnant employee cannot be required to take leave unless her employer can show that she is unable to perform an essential function of her job.

Parental leave

Natural and adoptive parents are also eligible for up to 63 weeks of parental 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

The Code does not provide for paid parental leave (see Unpaid leaves of absence on this page).

Combining maternity and parental leave

Female employees who have given birth can take both maternity and parental leave. However, they are only eligible for 1 period of time for each type of leave. If they choose to take parental leave, they must do so in 1 continuous period of time without interruption from 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. Employees can only share parental leave.

Hospitalization of the child during leave

If the child is hospitalized shortly after birth or adoption, the employee can interrupt maternity or parental leave.

The period within which the employee can take the maternity or parental leave can extend by the number of weeks during which the child is hospitalized.

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
  • medical 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. It 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)

For information on pregnant and nursing employees, please consult Pregnant and nursing employees (Publication 5 - Health and safety).

Division VII of Part III of the Canada Labour Code provides for maternity-related reassignment and leave, maternity leave, and parental leave.

For technical guidance, please consult Maternity leave (IPG-017).

Compassionate care leave

All employees can take up to 28 weeks of compassionate care leave within a 52-week period to look after a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. The employee can divide this leave into shorter, non-consecutive periods and may renew it during 52-week period. The employee must provide a certificate from a healthcare practitioner within 15 days of their return to work if their employer requests one. The Code does not provide for paid compassionate care leave (see Unpaid leaves of absence on this page). 2 or more employees can share this leave of absence when looking after the same family member. However, 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:

  • medical leave, or
  • work-related illness and injury leave

Compassionate care leave is to resume immediately after the other leave ends. However, it 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

To take this leave, the employee must provide their employer with a written notice and ta certificate from a health care practitioner. The Code does not provide for paid leave related to critical illness (see Unpaid leaves of absence on this page).

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:

  • medical 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).

Bereavement leave

All employees are entitled to 5 days of bereavement leave in the event of a death of an immediate family member.

The employee can take this leave starting the day on which:

  • the death occurs ending 6 weeks after the date of the funeral
  • the burial, or
  • the memorial service of that immediate family member

If an employee has 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer, the first 3 days of leave are paid. Employees without such continuous employment are entitled to 5 days of leave without pay. Employees may take this leave over more than 1 period. The employee must provide their employer with written notice as soon as possible, indicating the start date and duration of the leave.

For general information, please consult Bereavement leave (Publication 6 - Labour Standards).

Leave related to death or disappearance of a child

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
  • 104 weeks of leave if the child has died

The Code does not provide for paid leave related to death or disappearance of a child. See Unpaid leaves of absence on this page.

An employee is not eligible for this leave if he is charged with the crime. Or, if it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child was a party to the crime.

An employee who has 2 or more children under 18 years of age and has disappeared or are murdered as a result of the same event, the employee is eligible for:

  • only 1 leave of 52, if they have disappeared, and, or
  • only 1 leave of 104 weeks, if they are murdered

An employee who has 2 or more children under 18 years of age and has disappeared or are murdered as a result of different events, the employee will be eligible for:

  • 52 weeks of leave for each of the affected child, if they have disappeared, and
  • up to 104 weeks of leave for each of the affected child, if they are murdered

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 medical leave, or
  • work-related illness and injury leave

Leave related to death or disappearance is to resume immediately after the other leave ends. However, it 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).

Reservist leave

An employee who has 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer is allowed to take:

  • a leave of absence from their civilian employment
  • part in annual training or in certain military operations in Canada or abroad by the Minister of National Defence

This leave is also available if they are required to:

Reservists are entitled to 24 months of leave in a 60-month period. An extension of the leave may apply if a reservist is physically or mentally injured while on duty. The Code does not provide for paid reservist leave (see Unpaid leaves of absence on this page).

Employees must provide a 4 weeks written notice to the employer indicating:

  • the duration of the leave, unless the employee has a valid reason not to do so
  • his intention to extend or shorten the leave, unless the employee has a valid reason not to do so

The employee may extend or shorten his leave if he provides the employer with 4 weeks’ notice, unless there is a valid reason not to do so.

The employer can request within 3 weeks after the start date of the leave, proof that the employee qualifies for this leave. In this case, the employee must provide a document approved by the Chief of the Defence Staff or a document from their Commander, unless there is a valid reason not to do so.

For general information, please consult Reservist leave (Publication 15 - Labour standards) and the Canadian Forces Liaison Council.

Personal leave

All employees are entitled to up to 5 days of personal leave per calendar year. If an employee has 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer, the first 3 days of leave are paid. Employees with less than 3 months of employment are entitled to 5 days of leave without pay. The employee can take this leave over more than 1 period. The employer may request that the employee provide supporting documents concerning the reasons for the leave up to 15 days after the employee’s return to work. The employee must provide supporting documents if it is possible to obtain and provide them.

For general information, please consult Personal leave (Publication - Labour standards).

Leave for court or jury duty

All employees are entitled to unpaid leave for the time necessary to participate in a judicial proceeding as a:

  • witness
  • juror, or
  • candidate in a jury selection process

The employee must provide their employer with a written notice. In addition, the employer may require supporting documents.

Leave for traditional Aboriginal practices

Aboriginal employees with 3 months of continuous employment are entitled to take up to 5 days of leave per calendar year in order to take part in traditional Aboriginal practices such as:

  • fishing
  • hunting, and
  • harvesting

The employee can take their leave over more than 1 period. The employer may request that the employee provide documents that demonstrate that they are Aboriginal up to 15 days after the employee’s return to work. The employee must provide supporting documents if it is possible to obtain and provide them. The Code does not provide for paid leave for traditional Aboriginal practices (see Unpaid leaves of absence on this page).

For general information, please consult Leave for traditional Aboriginal practices (Publication - Labour standards).

Leave for victims of family violence

An employee is entitled to up to 10 days of leave per calendar year if they are:

  • victim of family violence, or
  • the parent of a child who is a victim of family violence

This leave allows victims of family violence to take time off to engage in activities, such as:

  • to seek medical attention for themselves or their child in respect of a physical or psychological injury of disability
  • to obtain services from an organization which provides services to victims of family violence
  • to obtain psychological or other professional counselling
  • to relocate temporarily or permanently
  • to seek legal or law enforcement assistance or to prepare for or participate in any civil or criminal legal proceeding, or
  • to take any measure prescribed by regulation

Employees can take this leave in more than 1 period. If an employee has 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer, the first 5 days are paid. Employees who have completed less than 3 months of employment are entitled to 10 days of leave without pay. To take this leave, employees shall provide their employer with written notice indicating the duration of their leave as soon as possible. Similarly, if there is a change in the duration of the leave, the employee must provide their employer with written notice. The employer may request that the employee provide supporting documents concerning the reasons for the leave up to 15 days after the employee’s return to work. The employee must provide supporting documents if it is possible to obtain and provide them.

For general information, please consult Leave for victims of family violence (Publication - Labour standards).

Unpaid leaves of absence

The Canada Labour Code does not provide for paid leaves of absence relating to:

  • medical leave
  • maternity and parental leave
  • compassionate care leave
  • leave related to critical illness
  • leave related to death or disappearance of a child
  • reservist leave, or
  • leave for traditional Indigenous practices

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 Service Canada.

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