Legal rights and HR policies
Taking time off work
Under the Employment Standards Act, you can take up to 8 weeks of unpaid time to care for a loved one who is seriously ill or dying.
This type of leave must be taken in one week increments and you must have a physician’s certificate saying that the family member or close friend is seriously ill and at significant risk of dying within 26 weeks.
Unfortunately, this is of limited benefit if you are caring for a person with dementia. Currently, Bill 21 is before the Ontario Legislature and would be more useful for caregiver of a person with dementia.
Bill 21, titled Leaves to Help Families, is an amendment to the Employment Standards Act. It provides job-protected unpaid leave for up to 8 weeks, in a given calendar year, to care for a loved one, whether employed full-time, part-time, permanent or on short-term contract.
To be eligible, you would need a qualified health practitioner to issue a certificate, stating the employee’s family member has a serious medical condition. You would present the certificate to your employer upon request.
Find out more.
Employee Assistance Programs
While not required by law, many employers have Employee Assistance Programs and policies in place. These generally allow for flexible work hours or options to work from home, depending on your occupation.
It’s best to talk with your employer about your challenges and find accommodations. This can help ensure you remain productive at work and fulfill your role as caregiver.
Compassionate care benefits
You might be eligible for EI compassionate care benefits for up to 6 weeks while you are on family medical leave.
For more information about compassionate care benefits or any other programs mentioned, contact Service Canada. To find the Service Canada Centre for your area, call 1-800-622-6232 or check their web site at www.servicecanada.gc.ca. To find out how to contact a community legal clinic, click here.