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.
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)
- 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.