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Critical Illness Leave

Region: Ontario Answer # 1606

What is Critical Illness Leave?

Critical illness leave is given to employees to provide care and support to family members and people who are considered to be like a family member who are critically ill.

Under the Employment Standards Act, eligible employees, who have have been employed by their employer for at least six months, are allowed up-to 37 weeks unpaid job-protected leave to care for a critically ill minor child, or 17 weeks to care for a critically ill adult, within a 52-week period.

Who is eligible?

To qualify to take critical illness leave the employee must provide the employer with a certificate by a qualified health practitioner that:

  • confirms that the minor child is a critically ill minor child, or the adult is a critically ill adult who requires the care or support of one or more family members, and
  • sets out the period during which the minor child or adult requires the care or support.

Critically ill means that the person’s baseline state of health has changed significantly and their life is at risk from an illness or injury.

Minor child is a child, step-child, foster child or child who is under legal guardianship, and who is under 18 years of age.

An adult is a person who is 18 years of age or older.

Who is considered a family member?

Critical illness leave may be taken to care for the following family members:

  • the employee’s spouse (including same-sex spouse)
  • a parent, step-parent or foster parent of the employee or the employee’s spouse
  • a child, step-child or foster child of the employee or the employee’s spouse
  • a brother, step-brother, sister, or step-sister of the employee
  • a grandparent or step-grandparent of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
  • a grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
  • a brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister-in-law or step-sister-in-law of the employee
  • a son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
  • an uncle or aunt of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
  • a nephew or niece of the employee or of the employee’s spouse
  • the spouse of the employee’s grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
  • persons considered to be like family members, including their minor children.

Persons considered to be like family members

If the employer requests, employees who want to take critical illness leave to care for people who are not family members (as defined by the Act), but who are considered to be like family members must provide a completed copy of the Family Member Attestation form.

If the specified family member does not live in Ontario, the employee is still eligible for the leave.

EI Caregiver Benefits

Under the Federal Employment Insurance Act, eligible employees may also be entitled to employment insurance special benefits if they have to be away from work to provide care for critically ill minor children who are family members, or critically ill adults.

Get help

For more information, view Caregiver benefits, or refer to the Government of Ontario’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act. For legal help and assistance, contact an employment lawyer.

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