Family Medical Leave
Family medical leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to eight weeks
in a 26-week period.
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 he or she has a serious medical condition with
a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks. The
medical condition and risk of death must be confirmed in a certificate
issued by a qualified health practitioner.
All employees, whether full-time, part-time,
permanent, or term contract, who are covered by theEmployment
Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)
are entitled to family medical leave.
There is no requirement that an employee be employed for a particular
length of time, or that the employer employ a specified number of
employees in order for the employee to qualify for family medical leave.
Care or support includes, but is not limited to:
providing psychological or emotional support; arranging for care by a
third party provider; or directly providing or participating in the care
of the family member.
family members for whom a family medical
leave may be taken are:
the employee's spouse (including same-sex
a parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the
a child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee's
a brother, step-brother, sister, or step-sister of the employee
a grandparent or step-grandparent of the employee or of the employee's
a grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or of the employee's
a brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister-in-law or
step-sister-in-law of the employee
a son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee or of the employee's
an uncle or aunt of the employee or of the employee's spouse
a nephew or niece of the employee or of the employee's spouse
the spouse of the employee's grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
Family medical leave may also be taken for
a person who considers the employee to be like a family member.
Employees wishing to take a family medical leave for a person in this
category must provide their employer, if requested, with a completed
copy of the Compassionate
Care Benefits Attestationform,
available from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, www.hrsdc.gc.ca,
whether or not they are making an application for EI Compassionate
Care Benefits or are required to complete the form to obtain such
The specified family members do not have to live in Ontario in order for
the employee to be eligible for family medical leave.
Employment Insurance Benefits
Under the federal Employment
Insurance Act, six weeks of employment
insurance benefits (called "compassionate
care benefits") may be paid to EI eligible
employees who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care to a
family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk
of death within 26 weeks and who requires care or support from one or more
family members. For information about EI contact Service Canada's
Employment Insurance Automated Telephone Information Service at
The right to take time off work under the
family medical leave provisions of the ESA is
not the same as the right to the payment of compassionate care benefits
under the federal Employment Insurance Act. An employee may be entitled to
family medical leave whether or not he or she has applied for or is
qualified for the compassionate care benefits.
Interaction Between Family Medical Leave and Personal Emergency
Family medical leave and personal emergency leave are two different types
of leave. Personal emergency leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to
10 days each calendar year. Personal emergency leave may be taken in the
case of personal illness, injury or medical emergency and the death,
illness, injury, medical emergency of, or urgent matter relating to,
certain family members, including dependent relatives.
Family medical leave, on the other hand, is unpaid, job-protected leave of
up to eight (8) weeks in a 26 week period. Family medical leave is 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 stating that this
family member has a serious illness with a significant risk of death
occurring within a period of 26 weeks.
Further, while only employees who work for employers that regularly employ
at least 50 employees are entitled to personal emergency leave, this is
not a requirement for family medical leave.
The list of persons for whom a family medical leave may be taken is not
identical to the list of persons specified for personal emergency leave.
An employee may be entitled to both leaves. They are separate leaves and
the right to each leave is independent of any right an employee may have
to the other leave. An employee who qualifies for both leaves would have
full entitlement to each leave.
Length of Family Medical Leave
A family medical leave can last up to eight weeks within a specified
The eight weeks of a family medical leave do
not have to be taken consecutively. An employee may therefore take a
single week of leave at a time. However, if an employee only takes part of
a week off work as family medical leave, it is still counted as a full
week of leave.
That is because "week" is defined for family medical leave purposes as a
period of seven consecutive days beginning on a Sunday and ending on a
Saturday. Week is defined in this way to correspond with the beginning and
end of the week set for EI entitlement purposes.
Felicia begins a family medical leave on Wednesday, May 21. First week
of leave is defined as beginning on the preceding Sunday, May 18 and
will end on Saturday, May 24. Felicia will be considered to have used
one full week of the 8 weeks of family medical leave as of Saturday,
Connie takes two days off work for family medical leave on Monday,
July 19 and Tuesday, July 20. The week of family medical leave is
defined as beginning on the preceding Sunday (July 18) and will end on
Saturday, July 24. Although Connie chose to return to work on
Wednesday, July 21 (and be paid her regular wages for that work) she
will be deemed to have used one full week of the 8 weeks of family
medical leave as of Saturday, July 24.
Sharing Family Medical Leave
The eight weeks of family medical leave must be shared by all employees in
Ontario who take a family medical leave under the ESA to provide care or
support to a specific family member. For example, if one spouse took six
weeks of family medical leave to care for his or her child, the other
spouse would be able to take only two weeks of family medical leave. The
spouses could take leave at the same time, or at different times.
Taking More Than 8 Weeks of Family Medical Leave
If an employee has taken a family medical leave to care for a family
member who has not passed away within the 26-week period referred to in
the medical certificate, and a health practitioner issues another
certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition
with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks, the employee would be
entitled to an additional eight-weeks of family medical leave.
As long as a health practitioner continues to issue additional
certificates, an employee will be entitled to additional leaves with
respect to the same family member.
Whether or not this employee would be eligible for any or further EI
benefits would be a matter to be determined by the federal Employment
Family Medical Leave for Additional Family Members
If an employee has more than one specified family member who has a serious
illness with a significant risk of death within a period of 26 weeks, the
employee will be entitled to an eight-week family medical leave for each
of the specified family members.
Timing of Family Medical Leave
If a qualified health practitioner issues a certificate stating that a
specified family member has a serious medical condition and there is
significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks, an
employee must take the family medical leave within that 26-week period.
Where two or more certificates are obtained by two or more employees
wishing to take leave with respect to the same family member, the 26-week
period within which the family medical leave must be taken is determined
by whichever certificate was issued first.
Earliest Date a Family Medical Leave Can Begin
The earliest an employee may start the leave is the first day of the week
in which the 26-week period identified on the medical certificate begins.
"Week" is defined for the purposes of family medical leave as a period of
seven consecutive days, beginning on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday. If
the date indicated on the certificate is a day other than a Sunday, the 26
week period will run from the preceding Sunday. Likewise, regardless of
what day of the week the employee actually begins the leave, the week of
family medical leave would be considered to have begun on the preceding
On Wednesday, June 13, a medical practitioner issues a certificate
stating that Mohammed's spouse has a serious medical condition with a
significant risk of death within a period of 26 weeks. Because a week
is defined as a period of 7 consecutive days beginning on Sunday and
ending on Saturday under the family medical leave provisions, the
26-week period is considered to begin Sunday June 10. Assuming
Mohammed wished to commence the leave on the day the certificate was
issued, the first week of the leave would be considered to have begun
on Sunday June 10.
Last Date of a Family Medical Leave
The latest day an employee can remain on leave is:
the last day of the week in which the family member dies,
the last day of the week in which the 26-week period expires
the last day of the eight weeks of family medical leave,
whichever is earlier.
Based on the definition of
"week" for family medical leave, the leave would always end on a Saturday.
The employee does not have to have the medical
certificate before he or she can take the leave. An employee might
commence the leave before obtaining the medical certificate. The right to
the leave is dependent upon the issuance of the medical certificate and the
leave must be completed within the 26-week period specified in that
certificate. If the employee could not subsequently produce a copy of the
certificate and/or purported to take leave beyond the 26-week period, the
employee would not be entitled to any of the protections afforded to
employees on such a family medical leave.
An employer is entitled to ask an employee for a copy of the certificate
of the qualified health practitioner to provide proof that he or she is
eligible for a family medical leave. The employee is required to provide
the copy as soon as possible after the employer requests it. The
certificate must state that the family member has a serious medical
condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a specified
The employee is responsible for obtaining and paying the costs (if any) of
obtaining the certificate. The Ministry of Labour cannot assist the
employee in obtaining the certificate.
If an employee is applying for Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate
care benefits, a copy of the medical certificate submitted to Human
Resources and Skills Development Canada may also be used for the purposes
of family medical leave.
Qualified Health Practitioner
A qualified health practitioner is a person who is qualified to practice
medicine under the laws of the jurisdiction in which care or treatment of
the family member is being provided.
In Ontario, only medical doctors can issue a certificate. Different types
of health practitioners may be able to issue certificates in different
jurisdictions - it will depend on the laws of that jurisdiction.
An employee must inform the employer in writing that he or she will be
taking a family medical leave of absence.
If an employee has to begin a family medical leave before notifying the
employer, he or she must inform the employer in writing as soon as
possible after starting the leave.
If the employee does not take the eight-week leave all at once, the
employee is required to provide notice to the employer each time the
employee begins a new part of the leave.
Boris is going to take four weeks of leave from July 1 to July 28, and
another four weeks from September 1 to September 28. Boris is required
to provide written notice to his employer of both periods of leave. He
can do this by providing a single written notice that sets out the
start dates of both periods of leave, or he can provide two separate
notices, at the same or different times.
An employee who does not give notice does not lose his or her right to a
family medical leave.
While an employee is required to tell the employer in advance that he or
she is taking a leave (or, if this is not possible, as soon as possible
after starting the leave), the employee will not lose the right to take
family medical leave if the employee fails to do so. An employer may
discipline an employee who does not properly inform the employer, but only
if the reason for the discipline is the failure to properly notify the
employer and not in any way because the employee took the leave.
Rights During and at the End of a Family Medical Leave
Employers do not have to pay wages when an employee is on family medical
Employees who take family medical leave are
entitled to the same rights as employees who take pregnancy or parental
leave. For example, An employer cannot threaten, fire or penalize in any
other way an employee for taking, planning on taking, being eligible or
being in a position to become eligible to take a family medical leave. See
During Pregnancy and Parental Leaves" in
the Pregnancy and Parental Leave chapter.