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13 Top Types of Leaves Employees Are Entitled to in Canada

Sep 6, 2023 | Business

The average Canadian employee is absent for about 12 days annually. Understanding and managing employee leaves in the modern workforce management environment is essential. It’s also important to understand that granting employee leaves is integral to creating an accommodating, compliant, supportive work environment.

If you’re focusing on a qualified Canadian workforce, you must know the various government-mandated and employee-provided employee leaves available.

Let’s unravel the diverse employee leaves in Canada to help you stay compliant and supportive.

1. Leave After the Death or Disappearance of a Child

An employee whose child – under 25 years old – disappears or dies due to a crime under the Criminal Code, is entitled to 156 weeks of unpaid leave. However, they can seek financial assistance from the Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children Grant.

The employee must be the child’s parent, guardian, or adopter, have custody of the child, or have decision-making responsibility under the Divorce Act.

Nevertheless, the leave doesn’t apply if the employee is charged with the crime.

2. Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices 

Any Aboriginal employee – Indian, Inuit, or Métis – has the right to five days of unpaid leave annually to attend events and customs, including hunting, harvesting, as well as fishing.

However, these employees must be continuously employed for three months and provide documentation proving they are Aboriginal.

Pregnant employee working in an office.

3. Maternity Leave

One of the most important employee leaves in Canada is the maternity leave. Any pregnant or nursing employee has up to 17 weeks of unpaid maternity leave (12 weeks if there’s a miscarriage or stillbirth). Depending on the jurisdiction, it can start 13 -17 weeks before the baby’s due date.

An employee must also have worked and accumulated up to 600 insured hours in a year to be eligible for this leave.

While the leave is unpaid, they can seek compensation through Employment Insurance, paid at 55% of their average salary, capped at CAD$595 weekly. You can, however, top-up this allowance.

Employees must provide documentation, including a certificate from a health practitioner confirming the pregnancy and four weeks’ advanced notice.

4. Parental Leave

All employees have the right to parental leave after adoption or birth. Both parents can share 63 weeks of unpaid parental leave (71 weeks if both parents are federally regulated).

Social Security – Service Canada – through Employment Insurance, pays for the leave at 55% of the employee’s average salary, capped at CAD$595 weekly (CAD$900 in Quebec). You can also choose to top up the allowance.

In addition, parents must go on parental leave for the child’s first year. However, the employee must have been employed for at least three months and contributed to social security.

5. Sick Leave

Employees have the right to up to 27 weeks of medical leave for various conditions, including illness or injury, organ donation, quarantine, or attending a medical appointment. You may reassign them if they cannot perform their previous duties once they resume work.

Alternatively, they can go for ten days of paid medical leave for similar health conditions if they’ve been in your employ for 30 consecutive days. After this period, they earn the first three days of paid medical leave and a day more at the beginning of every month, up to 10 days annually.

Any unused days of paid medical leave in a year are carried forward to the next year, up to the maximum limit of 10 days.

6. Vacation Leave

Your employee has the right to a vacation leave after a certain period of consecutive employment as follows:

  • Two weeks after one year
  • Three weeks after five years
  • Five weeks after ten years

They also have the right to vacation pay based on their income and years of employment as follows:

  • 4% for the first four years
  • 6% for 5-9 years
  • 8% after ten years

Understanding employee leaves - Female employee signing an employment contract in front of her male manager.

7. Compassionate Care Leave

Your employee has the right to up to 28 days of job-protected compassionate care leave annually to look after a gravely ill family member. Two or more employees can share compassionate care leave, but it cannot exceed 28 days.

While the leave is unpaid, they can seek compensation from the Employment Insurance at a rate of 55% of their average salary, capped at CAD$595 weekly.

8. Bereavement Leave

If an employee loses a family member or pregnancy results in other than a live birth (Alberta), they have the right to 10 days of bereavement leave.

This leave applies if the employee has been in your employ for three consecutive months. It also qualifies them to pay for the leave’s first three days.

If they’re on compassionate care leave or critical illness leave, and the family member they were taking care of dies, they are also entitled to bereavement leave.

They can take the bereavement leave in 1 or 2 periods from when the family member dies and ends six weeks after the burial, funeral, or memorial service date.

9. Personal and Family Responsibility Leave 

Your employee has the right to five days of personal leave annually to handle:

  • A family member’s health
  • Education-related obligations for a family member under 18 years old
  • A personal or family member’s urgent issue
  • Attend their citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act
  • Any other regulation-prescribed situation

They’re eligible for pay on the first three days of the leave if they’ve been in your employ for three consecutive months. They, however, should provide supporting documentation for the leave.

10. Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence

Also one of the most important employee leaves in Canada is the leave for victims of domestic violence. Employees who are victims of family violence or the parent of a child who is a victim are entitled to up to 10 days of leave annually.

They can use this time to seek legal, psychological, as well as medical assistance or regulation-prescribed measures. They can also relocate or prepare for civil or criminal proceedings.

Additionally, the employee is entitled to pay for the first five days of the leave if they’ve been in your employ for three consecutive months. They should, however, provide written documentation indicating the leave’s duration or if it changes.

You may also ask for supporting documentation regarding the reasons for the leave within 15 of the employee resuming work.

If your employees are victims of family violence, they can seek Domestic Violence Resources.

11. Long-Term Illness or Disability Leave

Employees have the right to an annual job-protected unpaid leave of up to 37 weeks to tend to a critically ill child and up to 17 weeks to an adult.

If they have multiple critically ill children, they can take a leave of 37 weeks for each child. They can break down the leave into shorter non-consecutive periods, not exceeding the entitled leave periods, for instance, if the family member has multiple serious illness episodes.

The employee should also provide written documentation indicating the leave’s duration and certification from a health practitioner certifying the critically ill child or adult requires the employee’s care or support.

12. Jury Duty or Witness Leave

Your employee can be mandated to participate in court proceedings as a witness, juror, or witness.

They have the right to unpaid leave for the duration of the judicial proceedings.

13. Reservist Leave

Last on our list of employee leaves is the reservist leave. Employees with three consecutive months of employment have the right to unpaid leave to serve the country in varied capacities, including:

  • An operation that the Minister of National Defence designates in Canada or abroad
  • An activity set out in regulations
  • Canadia Armed Forces military skills training
  • Mandated training under the National Defence Act
  • Manated lawful duties under the National Defence Act
  • Service to a civil power under the National Defence Act
  • Treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation from physical or mental health challenges caused by an activity or operation listed in the Labour Code

Reservists have the right to 24 months of leave in 60 months except in national emergencies (Emergencies Act).

Nevertheless, this leave can be revoked if it will cause you undue hardship or adversely affect public safety or health.

Businessman counting the days on a calendar - a concept of managing employee leaves.

Managing Employee Leaves With BrightR

Modern organizations are weaving employee leaves into their HR strategies for compliance and employee support.

However, handling the numerous employee leaves remains complex and time-consuming for any business, requiring specialized services from a knowledgeable PEO like BrightR Limited.

We bring a modern leave management platform as well as a vast experience to streamline employee leaves for you. We help prioritize employee well-being, work-life balance, and support while staying compliant.

Contact us for more on how to tackle employee leaves in Canada.

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