13 Questions and Answers About Paid Emergency Leave

  • Sickness & Leave
Questions and Answers About Paid Emergency Leave
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Defining Paid Emergency Leave for Employers

Did you get a chance to read our blog post on sick leave, otherwise known as personal emergency leave (PEL)? We covered the four changes employers need to know about sick leave in Ontario. To give you a quick recap, Ontario recently passed Bill 148 recognizing PEL as paid emergency leave. Building off of this, we’re answering the top 13 questions on PEL that’ve come into our Employer Advice Line.

13 Frequently Asked Questions About Paid Emergency Leave
  1. What is the definition of personal emergency leave (PEL)? PEL is job-protected leave that gives employees the right to take time off because of an illness, injury, medical emergency, death, or urgent matter, whether for him or herself or a family member.
  2. Who is included as a “family member”, that an employee can take PEL for? Family members include the employee’s: spouse; parent, grandparent, child, grandchild (all of which include both fostered or step-related); spouse of the employee’s child; siblings; and relative who is care-dependent on the employee.
  3. How many PEL days can an employee take? Each calendar year, employees have the right to take up to 10 days off for PEL.
  4. Who is entitled to paid emergency leave? All employees have the right to personal emergency leave from their first day of hire. The first two days of paid leave only applies to staff who have worked one week or more.
  5. Do employers pay for all PEL days? No. If your employee has worked for a minimum of one week, then pay must be provided for the first two days of leave. The rest is unpaid.
  6. How much pay do employees get during PEL? For the first two days of leave, the pay should amount to the employee’s regular rate of pay. For performance-based employees (i.e. on commission), you must pay them the greater of their hourly rate, or the minimum wage rate that applies to them for the time they took off for PEL.
  7. What if an employee only takes a half day of PEL? Employers can count it as a full days’ leave.
  8. If an employee starts partway through a year, how many PEL days do they get? The employee gets the full 10 days of leave.
  9. Can employees carry over unused PEL days? No. PEL is for a maximum of 10 days, within each calendar year.
  10. Can employees use PEL to take time off for regularly scheduled medical or dental appointments? It depends. PEL is only applicable to appointments due to illness, injury, or medical emergency. Employees cannot use PEL for personal medical appointments, such as an annual check-up. However, appointments are considered illness-related for the treatment or management of a chronic medical condition.
  11. Do employees need to request PEL with their employer? Yes. Employees must tell you if they are taking PEL before they start the leave or right after they start; this does not need to be in writing.
  12. Can employers ask for proof of the personal emergency, in order for employees to take the leave? It depends. Employers can ask for evidence under “reasonable circumstances” (i.e. death of a family member). However, employers cannot ask for medical notes from a physician, registered nurse, or psychologist. An employee can provide a medical note voluntarily.
  13. Is PEL applicable to all employers? If you are an employer covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA), PEL applies to your business no matter the size of your organization.

Do you have questions about paid emergency leave?

Call our Employer Advice Line – 1 (833) 247-3652 This service is complimentary to business owners, and available 24/7 for HR advice. What can we help you with?

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