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Family Responsibility Leave and Bereavement Leave

Region: Ontario Answer # 1608

Two common types of leave found in the Ontario Employment Standards Act are family responsibility leave and bereavement leave.

What is Family Responsibility Leave?

Family responsibility leave refers to time off due to an illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to certain relatives. Under the Act, eligible employees are entitled to take up-to three days of unpaid, job protected Family Responsibility Leave each year.

An employee becomes entitled to this leave once they have worked for an employer for at least two consecutive weeks.

Who are eligible family members?

An employee can take family responsibility leave due to the illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to the following eligible family members:

  • a spouse (includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same or opposite genders)
  • a parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
  • a spouse of the employee’s child
  • a brother or sister of the employee
  • a relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance

What is Bereavement Leave?

Under the Act, eligible employees are also entitled to take up-to two days of unpaid, job protected bereavement leave each year, after they have worked for the employer for at least two consecutive weeks. Bereavement leave refers to time off due the death of certain relatives. Eligible family members are the same as those for family responsibility leave.

An employee may be required to provide evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” that they are eligible for bereavement leave. This might be:

  • a death certificate,
  • a notification from a funeral home,
  • a published obituary, or
  • a copy of a printed program from a memorial service or communication from a legal office setting up an appointment to discuss estate matters

Reasonable in the circumstances may be determined on a number of factors, including:

  • the duration of the leave,
  • whether there is a pattern of absences, and
  • whether any evidence is available and the cost of the evidence

Get help

For more information on the different kinds of leave available to employees, view the Government of Ontario’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act. For legal help and assistance, contact an employment lawyer.

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