Human Resources Policies
Family Medical Leave

Category: Absence From Work

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Policy Statement

The City of Toronto provides up to eight weeks unpaid Family Medical Leave to employees who need to take a leave to provide care and support to a family member who has a serious medical condition where there is a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks.

Application

This policy applies to all City of Toronto employees and shall be administered in accordance with the Employment Standards Act.

Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, family member is defined as:

  1. The employee's spouse (includes common law and same sex partner)
  2. A parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee
  3. A child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee's spouse.
  4. A brother or sister of the employee.
  5. A grandparent of the employee or of the employee’s spouse.
  6. A grandchild of the employee or of the employee’s spouse.
  7. The father-in-law or mother-in-law of the employee.
  8. A brother-in-law or sister-in-law of the employee.
  9. A son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee or of the employee’s spouse.
  10. An uncle or aunt of the employee or of the employee’s spouse.
  11. The nephew or niece of the employee or of the employee’s spouse.
  12. The spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece.
  13. A foster parent of the employee’s spouse.
  14. A person who considers the employee to be like a family member.

Note: In numbers 4 to 8 a reference to a relationship includes the corresponding “step” relationship.

Provide care and support: 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.


Conditions

Requirement for medical certificate

An employee is entitled to a leave of absence without pay of up to eight weeks to provide care or support to a family member, if a qualified health practitioner issues a certificate stating that the individual has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks or a shorter period.

Duration of leave

When the health practitioner issues a certificate, an employee may take the Family Medical Leave within the 26-week period specified in the medical certificate. For example an employee may begin the leave as soon as the certificate is issued or may choose to wait to start the leave, as long as the leave does not extend beyond the designated end of the 26-week period.

The employee may remain on a leave for eight weeks or the last day of the week in which the family member dies.

The eight (8) weeks of a Family Medical Leave do not have to be taken consecutively but an employee may only take a leave in periods of entire weeks.

“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 Employment Insurance (EI) entitlement purposes.

Sharing the leave

If two or more employees (employed by the same or different organisations) take this leave to provide care and support for a specific family member, the eight weeks of Family Medical Leave must be shared between them. For example if one spouse takes six weeks to care for his or her child, the other spouse would be able to take only two weeks of Family Medical Leave.

Extension of leave

If employees request an extension beyond the eight weeks leave, they must submit a written request to their supervisor. The supervisor decides if this extension can be granted. If the request is approved, the extended leave can be covered by vacation, Voluntary Leave, Leave without Pay as well as personal leave provisions contained in the applicable collective agreements.

Subsequent leaves

If an employee takes a leave and the family member does not die within 26 weeks, the employee may take another leave at a later time and requires another medical certificate for that purpose.

Employment Insurance Benefits

All employees covered under the Employment Standards Act are entitled to take a Family Medical Leave. Those employees who qualify can also access Compassionate Care Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for up to six weeks.

In order to access these benefits, employees must serve a two-week unpaid waiting period.

Employees entitled to EI benefits can apply for employment insurance. Employees are required to provide a medical certificate to Employment Insurance in order to receive the benefit. The medical certificate can be found on the EI website.

Employment Insurance permits the sharing of the six-week benefit by two or more working members of the family. If the benefit is shared, only one employee serves the waiting period.

Employees may take the eight-week leave all at once or divide it into parts with a minimum of one-week segments.

Note: For details on eligibility on employment insurance benefits refer to the Employment Insurance (EI) Compassionate Care Benefits website (see link below)

Examples

  • Jane takes leave from Sunday August 8th to October 2nd and returns to work on October 4th, having completed the eight-week leave with six weeks EI benefit.
  • Abdul takes leave from August 8th to September 4th and returns to work on September 6th. (Four weeks: two-week waiting period and two-week leave with benefit). Abdul takes further leave from September 19th to October 2nd and returns to work October 4th (two-week leave with benefit). Abdul takes further leave from November 14th to November 27th and returns to work on November 29th (two-week leave with benefit).
  • Julia takes leave from October 10th to October 30th and returns to work on November 1st. She takes three weeks leave with benefit. Her brother had previously taken leave with three weeks benefit and had served the waiting period.

The EI benefits can be paid regardless of where the family member lives. If employees are required to travel to other countries to look after a dying family member, they are still entitled to the benefit and can access the benefit by application through the Internet.

The EI benefit ends at the end of the week in which the person dies if this occurs during the benefit period.


Salary & Benefits

Benefits

Basic benefits coverage (health, dental, group life insurance, STD and LTD) continues during Family Medical Leave.

Benefit coverage for part-time employees continues to be on a pro-rated basis.

Employees are responsible for premiums that they would normally pay for benefits that are not covered by the basic plan, for example additional coverage for group life insurance.

Pension

If employees want to maintain pension service credits they must pay their pension contributions for the duration of the leave. The city will match these contributions.

Vacation

Employees’ annual vacation entitlement is not affected by this leave.

Sick Pay

Employees, who accumulate sick leave credits, continue to earn sick credits during the period of leave.

Service and Seniority

Employees accumulate full service and seniority during the leave. However, Family Medical Leave days are not counted towards the completion of the probationary period.

Increments and Pay for Performance

Bargaining unit employees’ increments are not affected by this leave.

Non-union employees receive the full merit level increase based on their performance for the duration of the Family Medical Leave. Any further leave without pay is subject to pro-ration of the merit level increase and market rate adjustment.


Implementation

Notifying supervisors

Employees who wish to take Family Medical Leave must advise their managers/supervisors before taking the leave. If prior notice is not possible because of the urgency of the situation, employees should inform their managers/supervisors as soon as possible.

Employees must submit their requests in writing, stating:

  • the date that they want to start their leave and the date when they expect to return to work
  • the amount of leave requested and the scheduling e.g. eight weeks together; four weeks taken in weekly segments
  • whether the employee is the only family member taking the leave and if sharing the leave with another family member how many weeks he/she is taking i.e. less than eight (8) weeks.

If employees are not sure when they will be returning to work, they should contact their supervisors at a later date to advise of their return to work. If there is a change in the return to work date, supervisors must e-mail the new return to work date to Payroll as soon as they receive the information from employees.

Information for Payroll

Supervisors must ensure that a Leave of Absence Request/Notification form is completed stating “Family Medical Leave” in the Comments section, Section B, and submit the form to Payroll. The payroll control clerk sends a Record of Employment form directly to the employee.

At the start of the leave, the Pensions, Payroll & Employee Benefits Division sends a letter to the employee to explain that benefits will be protected on condition that proof is submitted that the requested leave is a Family Medical Leave.

Employees who are collecting EI benefits must submit confirmation that their leaves have been approved by Employment Insurance by sending the original EI pay stubs to Payroll as soon as they receive them and continue to provide the pay stubs as they are received.

Supervisors may ask an employee for a copy of the certificate as appropriate, for instance, in the situation where employees are not entitled to EI benefits because they do not have sufficient insurable hours. These employees must provide a certificate to their supervisor, from a qualified health practitioner stating that the employee's family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks or a shorter period. This certificate should be attached to the form submitted to Payroll. The certificate can either be a copy of the certificate used for EI purposed (available from the EI website) or a note from the health practitioner with the relevant information.

The federal government has developed a “Compassionate Care Benefits Attestation” form that is required for those persons applying for the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit under the “like a family member” category. The form needs to be signed by the gravely ill person or his or her legal representative, confirming that the caregiver is “like a family member”. In situations where the employee is applying for Family Medical Leave to care for a person who considers the employee to be like a family member, supervisors can request this document from an employee to confirm the employee’s eligibility, regardless of whether the employee is applying for the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit.



Related Information


Approved by

Executive Management Team

Date Approved

November 8, 2004

Revised

December 6, 2006

Update Pending

This policy is being reviewed and will be updated in accordance with changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Questions related to this policy as a result of these changes can be emailed to hrpolicy@toronto.ca


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