What is Compassionate Leave?

Compassionate leave is leave granted to employees who need to be away from work to care for or support a critically ill or injured person or someone needing end-of-life care.

Who Qualifies for Compassionate Leave?

All employees, whether full-time, part-time, permanent, or term contract, who are covered by the Employment Standard Act (ESA) are entitled to family medical leave. There is no requirement that an employee be employed for a particular length of time, or that the employer employ a specified number of employees in order for the employee to qualify for family medical leave.

If an employee is not taking care of a family member, the person being cared for must consider the employee to be like a family member.

This is also the case for federally regulated employees.

How Much Compassionate Leave Can I Take and Will I Be Paid?

“Family Medical Leave” and “Family Caregiver Leave” Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA)

Under the Employment Standards Actup-to 28 weeks of unpaid leave in a 52-week period may be taken. Leave is available to all employees who are covered by the Act, including full-time, part-time, permanent, or term contract.

Family caregiver leave is another job-protected leave available under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) for employees with certain relatives who have a serious medical condition. One of the main differences between family medical leave and family caregiver leave is that an employee may be eligible for family caregiver leave even if the family member who has a serious medical condition does not have a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks.

“Compassionate Care Leave” for Federally Regulated Employees

Federally regulated employees can also take up to 28 weeks of unpaid compassionate care leave within a 52-week period to look after a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. This leave begins during whichever occurs first:

  • The week the health care practitioner signs the medical certificate;
  • The week the health care practitioner examines the gravely ill family member; or
  • The week the family member becomes gravely ill, of the healthcare practitioner can determine that date (for example, the date of the test results)

The leave ends when:

  • The 28 weeks of compassionate care are complete;
  • The gravely ill family member dies or no longer requires care or support; or
  • The 52-week period expires.

“Caregiving Benefits” Under Employment Insurance (EI)

There are three types of paid caregiving benefits employees can access under employment insurance:

  • Family caregiver benefit for children (person under 18);
  • Family caregiver benefit for adults (persons over 18); and
  • Compassionate care benefits, which includes a person of any age who requires end-of-life care.

The family caregiver benefit for children is payable up to a maximum of 35 weeks, the adult caregiver benefit up to 15 weeks, and the compassionate care benefit up to 26 weeks.

“Compassionate Care Benefits” Under the Federal Employment Insurance Act (EIA)

Under the federal Employment Insurance Act, six weeks of employment insurance 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 or support from one or more family members.

The right to take time off work under the family medical leave provisions of the ESA is not the same as the right to the payment of compassionate care benefits under the federal Employment Insurance Act. An employee may be entitled to family medical leave whether or not he or she has applied for or is qualified for the compassionate care benefits.

Please note that this article is only to be used as general information and it does not constitute legal advice. We encourage employers and employees to contact Levitt Sheikh directly to better understand vaccination-related issues and seek legal advice to their questions.