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Approaching his employer

Even though Lee is worried about the ramifications of requesting time off from work, there are a few reasons why his boss may seriously consider such a request:

  • Lee’s employer likely values his contribution to the company, otherwise he would not have been kept on through downsizing.
  • Letting Lee go at this point would cause further disruption to the company at a time when it is trying to regroup.
  • The company has obligations to Lee under the Employment Standards Act, Human Rights Code and Workerplace Insurance Act.
  • Because Lee is under stress from multiple sources, he is at risk of developing health problems that may require him to take sick leave and possibly short-term or long-term disability in the future (a potential financial liability for his employer).
  • Courts are becoming increasingly intolerant of companies that turn a blind eye to chronic stress caused by work conditions, excessive demands from supervisors and management, and unpaid overtime that cause injury to the mental health of their employees.
  • Lee’s boss may have experience with caregiving within his own family and may be sympathetic to his plight.

Lee may also be concerned about disclosing to his boss that his father has dementia because of the stigma attached to the disease.

Going in prepared

Before approaching his boss, he should speak with the Human Resources department to get a thorough understanding of the company’s policies regarding leave and other benefit programs.

At the time of his request, Lee should be prepared to discuss the following with his boss:

  • Options (e.g. working part-time, shifting or flexing his work hours, doing more work via phone / teleconferencing / web, etc.)
  • The company’s policies regarding leave and other benefit programs

He should also go in understanding what legal obligations the company has to him.

Proposed legislation

On March 5, 2013, Bill 21, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Leave to Help Families), 2013 received First Reading in the Ontario Legislature. If passed, Bill 21 creates a new category of job-protected leave in Ontario that would allow employees to take up to 8 weeks’ unpaid leave to look after seriously ill family members (including parents).

Last Updated: 11/08/2017