Personal Emergency Leave
Some employees have the right to take up to 10
days of unpaid job-protected leave
each calendar year due to illness, injury and certain other emergencies
and urgent matters. This is known as personal
Regularly Employ 50 or More Employees
Only employees who work for employers that regularly employ at least 50
employees are eligible for personal emergency leave. When determining
whether the 50-employee threshold has been met, all employees of the
employer are counted. It is the number of employees that is counted, not
the number of "full-time equivalents." Part-timers and casual employees
are all included as one employee each in the count.
When a single employer has multiple locations, all employees employed at
each location in Ontario are to be counted.
An employer owns 5 sandwich shops with 12 employees employed in each
shop. This employer regularly employs 60 employees. All employees at
all 5 locations are entitled to personal emergency leave.
Reasons for Which an Unpaid Personal Emergency Leave May Be Taken
An employee who is entitled to personal emergency leave can take up to 10
days of unpaid leave due to:
Personal illness, injury or medical
Death, illness, injury, medical emergency
or urgent matter relating to the following family members:
A parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster
child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or
step-grandchild of the employee or the employee's spouse;
The spouse of an employee's child;
A brother or sister of the employee;
A relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for
care or assistance.
*Note: “spouse” includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same
sex or the opposite sex.
Illness, Injury or Medical Emergency
All illnesses, injuries and medical emergencies of the employee or of a
specified family member, as listed above, will qualify an employee for
personal emergency leave. It does not matter whether the illness, injury
or medical emergency was caused by the employee's own actions or by
external factors beyond the employee's control. For example, an employee
who sprained his knee while showing off to his friends when waterskiing
would still be entitled to personal emergency leave, even though the
injury was a result of his own carelessness.
Generally, employees are entitled to take personal emergency leave for
pre-planned (elective) surgery. Although such surgery is scheduled ahead
of time (and therefore not a medical "emergency"), surgeries performed
because of an illness or injury will entitle an employee to personal
Employees are not entitled to personal emergency leave for medically
unnecessary cosmetic surgery unrelated to an illness or injury.
An employee is eligible for personal emergency
leave because of the death, illness, injury or medical emergency of, or an
“urgent matter” concerning, a specified family member, as listed above. An
urgent matter is an event that is unplanned or out of the employee's
control, and raises
the possibility of serious negative consequences, including emotional
harm, if not responded to.
Examples of an "urgent matter":
The employee's babysitter calls in sick.
The house of the employee's elderly parent is broken into, and the
parent is very upset and needs the employee's help to deal with the
The employee has an appointment to meet with his or her child's
counsellor to discuss behavioural problems at school. The appointment
could not be scheduled outside the employee's working hours.
Examples of events that do not qualify as an urgent matter:
an employee wants to leave work early to watch his daughter's track
An employee wants the day off in order to attend at her sister's
wedding as a bridesmaid.
Interaction Between Personal Emergency Leave and Contracts that
Provide Paid Sick Leave or Bereavement Leave
If a contract (which
includes a collective agreement) provides a greater right or benefit than
the personal emergency leave standard in the Employment
Standards Act, 2000 (ESA),
then the terms of the contract apply instead of the personal emergency
leave provisions of the ESA.
If the contract does not provide a greater
right or benefit than the personal emergency leave standard in the ESA,
the personal emergency leave provisions of the ESA will
apply to the employee. The ministry will not get involved in determining
how the leave provisions of the contract are applied.
For example, a contract only provides three
paid personal sick days and three paid bereavement leave days per year. It
does not provide job-protected time off for any other reason. This
contract does not provide a greater right or benefit than the ESA's
personal emergency leave provisions. This means that the employee will be
entitled to 10 unpaid days of personal emergency leave per calendar year
for any of the reasons listed in the ESA.
If the employee takes 10 days of personal emergency leave for personal
illness, the employee will have used up the entitlement under the ESA.
Questions of whether any of those absences must be paid, and whether those
absences draw down against the three paid sick leave days under the
contract are not matters the ministry gets involved in answering.
Interaction Between Personal Emergency Leave and Family Medical
Personal emergency leave and family medical 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 he or
she 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.
See the "Family
Medical Leave" chapter of this Guide for
further information. 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 Personal Emergency Leave
Employees are entitled to up to 10 full days of
personal emergency leave every calendar
year, whether they are employed on a full
time or part time basis.
There is no pro-rating of the 10-day entitlement. An employee who begins
work part way through a calendar year is still entitled to 10 emergency
days during the remainder of that year.
Employees cannot carry over unused personal emergency leave days to the
next calendar year. The 10 days of personal emergency leave do not have to
be taken consecutively. Employees can take personal emergency leave in
part days, full days, or in periods of more than one day. If an employee
takes only part of a day as personal emergency leave, the employer can
count it as a full day of leave.
Part-day personal emergency leave
Kevin's daughter is sick and her doctor has
scheduled some tests at the hospital. Kevin tells his employer that he
has to be away from work in the morning to take his daughter for
Kevin has the right to be on personal emergency leave for the half-day
needed to take his daughter for the tests. His employer does not have
to count the absence as a full day of leave but can if it wishes.
Because Kevin only needed half of the day, he did not have the right
to take the entire day off as personal emergency leave even if his
employer counted the half-day absence as a full day of leave.
The employer can only count the half-day absence as a full day of
leave for the purpose of determining whether Kevin's 10 day
entitlement has been used up. For example, the employer still has to
pay Kevin for the half day that he worked, and has to include the
hours worked for the purpose of determining whether Kevin has worked
overtime or has reached his daily or weekly limit on hours of work.
Generally, an employee must inform the employer before starting the leave
that he or she will be taking a personal emergency leave of absence.
If an employee has to begin a personal emergency leave before notifying
the employer, the employee must inform the employer as soon as possible.
Notice does not have to be given in writing. Oral notice is sufficient.
While an employee is required to tell the
employer in advance that he or she is taking a leave (or, if this is not
feasible, as soon as possible after starting the leave), the employee will
not lose the right to take personal emergency 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.
Proof of Entitlement
An employer may require an employee to provide evidence reasonable in the
circumstances that he or she is eligible for a personal emergency leave of
absence. What will be reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all
of the facts of any given situation, such as the duration of the leave,
whether there is a pattern of absences, whether any evidence is available,
and the cost of the evidence.
Medical Notes where the Employee Was Away Because of Personal
Illness, Injury or Medical Emergency
If the circumstances are such that it is reasonable for the employer to
require the employee to provide a doctor's note, the employer can ask only
for the following information:
The duration or expected duration of the absence,
The date the employee was seen by a health care professional,
Whether the patient was examined in person by the health care
professional issuing the certificate.
Employers are not allowed to require information about the diagnosis or
treatment of the medical condition of the employee.
Medical Notes Where the Employee Was Away Because of the Illness,
Injury or Medical Emergency of a Specified Relative
The employer is not allowed to require a medical note in respect of the
relative, nor can the employee be required to give details of the medical
condition of the relative. The employer may only require the employee to
disclose the name of the relative and his or her relationship to the
employee, and to state that the absence was required because of the
relative's injury, illness or medical emergency.
Rights During Leave
Employees who take personal emergency leave are
entitled to the same rights as employees who take pregnancy or parental
leave. For example, employers cannot threaten, fire or penalize in any
other way an employee who takes or plans on taking a personal emergency
leave. See "Rights
During Pregnancy and Parental Leaves" in
the Pregnancy and Parental Leave chapter.
Special Rule Re: Personal Emergency Leave
Certain professionals may not take personal
emergency leave where it would constitute an act of professional
misconduct or a dereliction of professional duty. For a list of
professions to which this special rule applies, please refer to
Professionals in the Special