Here's What You Need to Know When Your Employees Ask for a Leave of Absence for Child Care

Peninsula Team

September 11 2017

Employer FAQ's: Leave of Absence for Child Care

The topic of "leaves of absence" is a commonly-searched term, especially in the months of September and October. The reason being that working parents are faced with child care obligations. When employees take on back-to-school hours or care for a sick child as the weather turns colder, for employers, that means accommodating the time off.

What is legally required when it comes to leaves of absence for child care?

As a small business owner, it is important to understand your legal rights as an employer, and the rights of your employees. Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) sets the minimum workplace standards and outlines the right to take unpaid time off from work. Specific to child care, employers must provide employees with unpaid and job-protected leave as follows:

  • Personal Emergency Leave: up to 10 days per calendar year
  • Family Caregiver Leave: up to 8 weeks per calendar year
  • Family Medical Leave: up to 8 weeks in a 26-week period * the leave does not have to be consecutive
  • Critically Ill Child Care Leave: up to 27 weeks in a 52-week period * the employee must be employed for at least six consecutive months to be eligible for this leave

If you need help to apply this information to your particular situation, speak to an employment or HR specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Should employers pay employees while they are on a leave of absence? No. Employees are entitled to unpaid leave. It is an employer's decision to accommodate time off or the option for pay while on a flexible work schedule.
  2. When should employees notify employers about a leave of absence? As soon as possible. Employees must inform employers before the leave begins or if not possible, shortly after. For extended leaves of absence, a notice in writing is mandatory.
  3. Do employers have to keep the employee's jobs for them while they are on leave? Yes. Employees are entitled to job-protected leave. You may hire a replacement worker to cover the job while the employee is on leave, but he or she is entitled to return to that position or a comparable job when their leave is finished.

Are you an employer with questions about accommodating leaves of absence for your employees when it comes to child care? Call Peninsula's free helpline, available 24/7 for small business owners to ask employment questions at any time - 1(833) 247-3650.

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