Questions from Employees

What is Family Medical Leave?

Family Medical Leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to eight (8) weeks in a 26-week period. It may be taken to provide care and support to a specified family member (listed in the policy) for whom a qualified health practitioner has issued a certificate indicating that the family member has a serious medical condition and there is a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks.

What do I have to do to request a Family Medical Leave?

Submit a written request to your manager or supervisor, stating your wish to take a Family Medical Leave.

Specify:

  • the duration of the requested leave
  • the scheduling you are requesting e.g. eight weeks together; four weeks taken in weekly segments
  • whether or not you are the only family member taking the leave and if you are sharing it how many weeks you are taking i.e. less than eight weeks
  • when you wish to start your leave and the date when you expect to return to work.

What other documentation do I need to give my supervisor?

If you receive Employment Insurance (EI) Compassionate Care benefits you do not need further documentation for your supervisor but will be required to submit the EI stubs to Payroll as soon as you receive them and continue to provide the pay stubs as they are received.

If you are not entitled to the EI benefits because you do not have sufficient insurable hours, you must provide a certificate to your supervisor from a qualified health practitioner stating that you have a family member with a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks or shorter.

Does this leave apply to me if I am a part-time, or temporary employee?

All employees, whether full-time or part-time, permanent, temporary or contract, are entitled to Family Medical Leave.

How much leave am I entitled to if I share it with other members of my family?

The eight (8) weeks of a Family Medical Leave must be shared by all employed family members who take a Family Medical Leave to provide care and support to a specific family member. For example, if one spouse takes six (6) weeks of Family Medical Leave to care for his or her child, the other spouse can take only two weeks of Family Medical Leave.

How will my benefits be affected if I take this leave?

The City continues your basic benefits coverage (health, dental, group life insurance, STD and LTD) for the duration of the leave for a maximum of eight weeks. Coverage of benefits for part-time employees continues on a pro-rated basis. If you normally pay premiums for benefits that are not covered by the basic plan, for example additional coverage for group life insurance you are still responsible for paying those premiums during the leave.

If you want to maintain pension service credits you must pay your pension contributions for the duration of the leave. The City will match these contributions.

How will my sick time, vacation, service and seniority be affected if I take this leave?

You earn vacation credits during the leave. If you accumulate sick leave credits, you continue to earn these credits during the period of leave. You accumulate full service and seniority during the leave, however Family Medical Leave days are not counted towards the completion of the probationary period.

How does this leave impact on Ill Dependent Leave?

If you are entitled to Ill Dependent Leave you may wish to access that leave before family medical leave, as ill dependent leave is paid leave. You do not have to use ill dependent leave before applying for Family Medical Leave. You may wish to use it for other instances or family members.

Am I paid for statutory holidays if they occur when I am on leave?

Statutory holidays are treated in the same way as in other unpaid leaves. If a statutory holiday occurs during your leave you are not paid for that holiday.

What do I do if I want an extension of Family Medical Leave i.e. more than eight weeks?

You submit a request to your supervisor stating how much time you are requesting. Note that a request for leave beyond eight weeks is at divisional discretion. If the extended leave is granted you must take that time as vacation, Voluntary Leave, Leave without Pay or personal leave provisions if they are in your collective agreement. The benefits you receive during an extended leave depend on the conditions specified by the type of leave you take e.g. if you take Voluntary Leave, benefits are included; if Leave without Pay, benefits are not included.

Can I apply for a subsequent Family Medical Leave if I have already taken such a leave at an earlier time?

If you have taken a Family Medical Leave and your family member did not die within the designated 26 weeks, you may take another leave at a later time if you are facing a similar situation or if another family member is at risk of dying. Every time you take a new Family Medical Leave, you need a new medical certificate.

I know that the leave is unpaid but am I eligible for Employment Insurance benefits?

Under the Employment Insurance Act, EI benefits called “Compassionate Care benefits” may be paid to EI eligible employees who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks and who requires care and support from one or more family members.

Eligibility for EI benefits, including Compassionate Care benefits is decided by Skills Development Canada, a department of the federal government.

The EI benefit for Compassionate Care is available to all employees who:

  • have worked at least 600 hours in the last 52 weeks, and;
  • whose regular weekly earnings decrease by more than 40% as a result of the leave, and;
  • take a leave on or after Jan. 4, 2004, to care for a gravely ill family member with significant risk of death within the next 6 months.

In June 2006 the definition of family member was expanded. For a full list of eligible family members refer to the Employment Insurance (EI) Compassionate Care Benefits website (see link below)

You are required to provide a medical certificate to Employment Insurance in order to receive the benefit.

What should I do if I haven’t enough insurable hours to qualify for Employment Insurance Compassionate Care benefits?

First check with Employment Insurance to determine what you may be entitled to. If you cannot access Compassionate Care benefits you are still entitled to take eight weeks Family Medical Leave.

As this leave is unpaid do I have the option of receiving no pay during the leave or pro-rating payments over a number of pay periods within the calendar year?

There is only one option for this leave and that is to receive no pay during periods that you are away from work on Family Medical Leave.

Questions from Supervisors and Managers

How should I proceed when an employee requests Family Medical Leave?

Family Medical Leave is part of the Employment Standards Act and all employers are required to approve requests for these leaves, subject to the conditions set out in the Family Medical Leave policy.

What documentation should I require from the employee?

You are responsible for ensuring that the appropriate paperwork is completed for an employee to take the leave and be eligible for EI benefits.

When you are asked to approve a Family Medical Leave, ask the employee for a written request for the leave; specifying:

  • the duration of the requested leave
  • the scheduling that is being requested e.g. eight weeks together; four weeks taken in weekly segments
  • whether the employee is the only family member taking the leave
  • whether the employee is sharing the leave with another family member and if so how many weeks he/she is taking i.e. less than eight weeks
  • when the employee wishes to start the leave and the date when he/she expects to return to work.

Note: You may ask the employee to provide a copy of the certificate from the qualified health professional, in situations where the employee is not entitled to the EI benefits because they do not have sufficient insurable hours.

In the event that an employee is asking for a leave to take care of “a person who considers the employee to be like a family member” you may request a “Compassionate Care Benefits Attestation” form that is required for those persons applying for the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit under the “like a family member” category. The form needs to be signed by the gravely ill person or his or her legal representative, confirming that the caregiver is “like a family member”.

What information must I provide to Payroll?

When you have approved the leave, notify the employee in writing. Submit a completed Leave of Absence Request/Notification form stating “Family Medical Leave” in the Comments section, Section B, and submit the form to Payroll. It is essential that the form be submitted because it ensures that the employee’s pay stops and prompts the issuing of a Record of Employment (ROE). The ROE is required to apply for EI benefits. The payroll control clerk sends an ROE form directly to the employee.

If an employee is collecting EI benefits he/she does not need to provide further information.

Note: In rare some cases where an employee is not entitled to EI benefits he/she must provide a medical certificate or note from a qualified health practitioner, to his/her supervisor, indicating that the employee’s family member has a serious medical condition and there is a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks.

If an employee has not been able to provide you with a firm end date when he/she begins the leave, the employee should be requested to contact you near the end of the leave to advise you of his/her return to work. When you know this date, submit the information to Payroll to ensure the employee’s pay is reinstated on time when the employee returns to work.

How do I record employees’ attendance when they are on Family Medical Leave?

Indicate on your attendance report that the employee is absent from work with permission for a Family Medical Leave and include the return date.

What do I do if an employee requests an extension of Family Medical Leave i.e. beyond eight weeks?

During the leave, an employee may request additional leave. A request for leave beyond eight weeks is at divisional discretion. If you approve an extended leave it can be covered by vacation, Voluntary Leave, Leave without Pay as well as personal leave provisions contained in the applicable collective agreements.

Note that employees are eligible for different leave provisions depending on their bargaining unit or non-union status.

The benefits an employee receives during an extended leave depends on the conditions specified by the type of leave taken e.g. Voluntary Leave includes benefits; benefits are not included in a Leave without Pay.

What do I do if an employee applies for a Family Medical Leave and has previously had such a leave?

The employee may have taken a Family Medical Leave and his/her family member did not die within the designated 26 weeks. That employee is entitled to another Family Medical Leave if he/she is facing a similar situation with the same family member or if another family member is at risk of dying. Employees are required to get a separate medical certificate for every occurrence of Family Medical Leave.

If the employee’s family member dies during this leave does bereavement leave overlap?

When an employee is on Family Medical Leave both the leave and the compassionate care benefit (if applicable) end on the last day of the week in which the family member dies. In some cases employees may choose to stay on Family Medical Leave as they are entitled to EI benefits until the end of that week. In other cases, particularly in instances where a funeral must take place immediately after the death, employees may choose to end their family medical leave and access Bereavement Leave immediately.

Bereavement Leave must be taken between the day of the death and seven calendar days following the funeral.

Examples:

  • John takes family medical leave to care for his father. His father dies on Wednesday of the fourth week of the leave. John remains on family medical leave until Saturday. His father’s funeral is scheduled for the following Monday and he takes bereavement leave from that Monday. He returns to work one week later.
  • Mohammed takes family medical leave to care for his mother. His mother dies on the Tuesday of the fifth week of the leave. His mother’s funeral takes place on the following day (Wednesday). Mohammed chooses to end his family medical leave on Wednesday and takes five days bereavement leave starting Thursday. He returns to work on the following Thursday.

Note: The number of bereavement leave days provided is determined by an employee’s affiliation.

What important information should I be giving to my employees when they ask me about this leave?

Employees are entitled to eight weeks of Family Medical Leave, although EI benefits are provided to a maximum of six weeks and they must serve an unpaid two-week waiting period.

The EI benefit for Compassionate Care is available to all employees who:

  • have worked at least 600 hours in the last 52 weeks, and;
  • whose regular weekly earnings decrease by more than 40% as a result of the leave, and;
  • take a leave to care for a gravely ill family member with significant risk of death within the next 6 months.

Employees can go the federal government website that provides detailed information about the Compassionate Care benefit program and they can apply for this benefit on-line:

Compassionate Care Benefit Website (see link below)

Basic benefits (health, dental, group life insurance, STD and LTD) continue for the duration of the leave at no extra cost to the employee for a maximum of eight weeks Vacation credits, sick bank credits are earned during the leave There is no impact on service or seniority, however, Family Medical Leave days are not counted towards the completion of the probationary period.

Should I communicate this policy to my staff?

Yes. Information on this policy may not have reached all employees. The Family Medical Leave was enacted on June 29th 2004 and the EI benefit has only existed since January 2nd 2004 and employees may not be aware of the law or benefits.

Approved by

Executive Management Team

Date Approved

November 8, 2004

Revised

December 6, 2006

Related information

Family Medical Leave Policy

Related links

For more information:

Government of Ontario, Employment Standards Information

or call Government of Ontario, Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551.

Employment Insurance (EI) Compassionate Care Benefits

or call the Government of Canada at 1-800-622-6232.