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Home > Unit Chair Reports > Personal Emergency Leave

PERSONAL EMERGENCY LEAVE

Posted: Sept. 24, 2008
By: Richard Paquin

We have been getting a lot of calls on personal emergency leave. He is what your rights and the Company’s rights are under the Employment Standard Act.

What is personal emergency leave?

Personal emergency leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to ten days each calendar year. It may be taken in the case of personal illness, injury, or medical emergency and the death, illness, injury, medical emergency of or urgent matter relating to certain family members and dependent relatives.

Is personal emergency leave the same as family medical leave?

No, family medical leave is an unpaid job-protected leave of up to eight (8) weeks in a 26-week period, to provide care and support to certain family members and to persons who consider the employee to be like a family member. It may only be taken if a qualified medical health practitioner has issued a certificate stating the person has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring with a period of 26 weeks.

An employee may be entitled to both personal emergency leave and family medical leave. They are separate leaves and the right to one leave is independent of the right to the other. An employee who qualifies for both leaves would be entitled to both leaves.

When would I be entitled?

If you are eligible for personal emergency leave, you can take up to ten days a year of unpaid leave of absence for:

  • personal illness, injury or medical emergency
  • death, illness, injury, medical emergency of or urgent matter relating to:
    • your spouse (includes a same-sex spouse)
    • a parent, step-parent or foster parent of yours or your spouse
    • a child, step-child or foster child of yours or your spouse
    • a grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of yours or your spouse
    • the spouse of your child
    • your brother or sister
    • a relative who is dependent on you for care or assistance.

Do I have to give notice to take personal emergency leave?

You must inform your employer that you will be taking a personal emergency leave of absence. If you have to begin personal emergency leave before you can notify your employer, then you must tell your employer as soon as possible after starting the leave.

How long can personal emergency leave last?

An employee may take up to ten days' personal emergency leave in a calendar year. These days don't have to be taken consecutively.

How do employees tell their employers about their plans?

An employee must inform the employer before starting the leave that he or she will be taking a personal emergency leave of absence.

What if there is no time for the employee to give advance notice?

If an employee has to begin a personal emergency leave before notifying the employer, he or she must inform the employer as soon as possible after starting the leave.

Does the employee lose the right to take personal emergency leave if the employee does not properly inform the employer of the leave?

No. If the qualifying conditions described earlier are met, an employee is entitled to take a personal emergency leave. While an employee is required to tell the employer in advance that they are taking a leave (or, if this is not possible, as soon as possible after starting the leave), the employee will not lose the right to take personal emergency leave

if the employee fails to do so. An employer may discipline an employee who does not properly inform the employer, but only if the reason for the discipline is the failure to properly notify the employer and not in any way because the employee took the leave.

Can the employer ask for evidence of why the employee took a personal emergency leave?

An employer is allowed to ask an employee to provide evidence that he or she is eligible for a personal emergency leave of absence. The employee is required to provide evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances.

Medical Notes where the Employee Was Away Because of Personal Illness, Injury or Medical Emergency

If the circumstances are such that it is reasonable for the employer to require the employee to provide a doctor's note, the employer can ask only for the following information:

  • The duration or expected duration of the absence,
  • The date the employee was seen by a health care professional,
  • Whether the patient was examined in person by the health care professional issuing the certificate.

Employers are not allowed to require information about the diagnosis or treatment of the medical condition of the employee.

Medical Notes Where the Employee Was Away Because of the Illness, Injury or Medical Emergency of a Specified Relative

The employer is not allowed to require a medical note in respect of the relative, nor can the employee be required to give details of the medical condition of the relative. The employer may only require the employee to disclose the name of the relative and his or her relationship to the employee, and to state that the absence was required because of the relative's injury, illness or medical emergency.