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Statutory Leaves of Absence

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario provides for job-protected leaves of absence for a variety of reasons. These various leaves are listed below, along with links to more information about the nature, purpose, and eligibility requirement for such leaves. You may be entitled to more than one of these leaves for the same event. Each leave is separate and the right to each leave is independent of any right you may have to other leaves.

In some cases, you may also be eligible to receive Employment Insurance Benefits during a job-protected leave of absence.

Please be sure to read the government information at the links below, as well as your collective agreement or employment contract as may be applicable.  If you have any questions about your entitlements as it relates to leaves of absence from work, please speak with your leader or contact your Employee and Labour Relations Advisor.

Additional information is available for TMG employees (TMG Time and Leave Provisions) and also for Unifor employees (Time Management Guidelines – Unifor).

To request any type of leave of absence, with the exception of Personal Emergency Leave, you must complete a Request for Leave of Absence Form.

Expandable List

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for unpaid, job-protected Pregnancy and Parental Leave:

  • Pregnancy Leave of up to 17 weeks for birth mothers;
  • Parental Leave of up to 63 weeks for new parents, or up to 61 weeks for birth mothers who also take Pregnancy leave.

To be eligible for Pregnancy Leave, your baby’s expected birth date (“due date”) must be at least 13 weeks after the date you started employment.  To be eligible for Parental Leave, you must have been employed by McMaster University for at least 13 weeks before the start of the leave.

Information about your right to take Personal Emergency Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.

Employment Insurance (EI): information about your eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits during a Pregnancy and/or Parental leave is available through the Government of Canada.

Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) provided by McMaster:  McMaster University has supplemental benefits for pregnancy and/or parental leaves. To determine if you qualify, please see the appropriate Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) or University Policy.

How to Apply for the McMaster SUB: payments from the SUB fund will not be made until the employee provides documentation confirming his/her receipt of maternity/parental EI benefits unless otherwise outlined in the applicable CBA or University policy.

If applicable, the employee must provide Human Resources Services with a copy of his/her benefit stub portion or the online pay statement as applicable. The statement should reflect the waiting period (if any) and the eligible pre-tax weekly benefit amount. Calculations will be made for the total eligible period (as defined by the respective CBA or University Policy) and divided evenly between the pay periods remaining for the same eligible period. As a result, all payments are retroactive.

McMaster Benefits while on Leave: employees who take a Pregnancy and/or Parental Leave will be entitled to pension, health, disability and other benefits provided the employee is eligible for (and is participating in) these benefits and continues to contribute his/her normal share of the cost of these benefits.

  • Employer Paid Benefits: the University will continue Extended Health, Dental and Basic Group Life benefits during the leave.
  • Employee Paid Benefits: employee paid benefits include Long-Term Disability (LTD), Optional Life insurance, and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance. Employees wishing to continue participation in any of these, must notify Human Resources Services of his/her decision in advance of the commencement of his/her leave. If the employee opts to discontinue Optional life for the duration of his/her leave, the employee must reapply for Optional Group Life upon his/her return if he/she wishes to resume Optional Life coverage.

Pension while on Leave: while on Pregnancy and/or Parental Leave the employee has the option to continue his/her pension contributions. If pension contributions are discontinued, the employee’s pension service will not accrue and his/her anticipated retirement dates may be impacted.

Vacation: vacation will continue to accrue while on pregnancy and/or parental leave in accordance with the ESA.

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for unpaid, job-protected Family Caregiver Leave:

  • Up to 8 weeks per calendar year, taken consecutively or separately, per designated family member.

Family Caregiver Leave may be taken to provide care or support to each of the following family members for whom a qualified health practitioner has issued a certificate stating that they have a serious medical condition:

  • the employee’s 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 grandparent or step-grandparent of the employee or the employee’s spouse
  • a grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
  • a spouse of a child of the employee
  • a brother or sister of the employee
  • a relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance.

The specified family members do not have to live in Ontario for the employee to be eligible for family caregiver leave.

Care or support includes, but is not limited to: providing psychological or emotional support; arranging for care by a third-party provider; or directly providing or participating in the care of the family member.

Information about your right to take Family Caregiver Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for unpaid, job-protected Family Medical Leave:

  • Up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period, taken consecutively or separately, per designated family member.

Family Medical Leave may be taken to provide care or support to any of the following individuals who have a serious medical condition with a significant risk of dying within 26 weeks:

  • your spouse
  • your parent, step-parent or foster parent
  • your brother, step-brother, brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister, step-sister, sister-in-law or step-sister-in-law
  • a child, step-child, foster child, son-in-law or daughter-in-law of you or your spouse
  • a grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of you or your spouse
  • your father-in-law, step-father-in-law, mother-in-law or step-mother-in-law
  • an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of you or your spouse
  • the spouse of your grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
  • your spouse’s foster parent
  • any other person who considers you to be like a family member

Information about your right to take Family Medical Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.

Information about your eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits during a Family Medical Leave is available through the Government of Canada.

Certain employee groups at McMaster University have Supplemental Benefits for Family Medical Leave.  Please consult with your collective agreement or employment contract for more information.

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for unpaid, job-protected Critical Illness Leave:

  • Up to 37 weeks in a 52-week period, taken consecutively or separately, to care for a minor child; and
  • Up to 17 weeks in a 52-week period, taken consecutively or separately, to care for an adult family member.

Critical Illness Leave may be taken to provide care or support to a critically ill minor child (under 18 years of age) or adult who is one of the following family members:

  • your spouse
  • your parent, step-parent or foster parent
  • your brother, step-brother, brother-in-law, step-brother-in-law, sister, step-sister, sister-in-law or step-sister-in-law
  • a child, step-child, foster child, son-in-law or daughter-in-law of you or your spouse
  • a grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of you or your spouse
  • your father-in-law, step-father-in-law, mother-in-law or step-mother-in-law
  • an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of you or your spouse
  • the spouse of your grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
  • your spouse’s foster parent
  • any other person who considers you to be like a family member

You must have been employed by McMaster University for at least six consecutive months to be eligible for this leave.

“Critically ill” means that a person’s baseline state of health has significantly changed and their life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury.

Information about your right to take Critical Illness Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.

Information about your eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits during a Critical Illness Leave for minor children and adults is available through the Government of Canada.

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for unpaid, job-protected Organ Donor Leave:

  • Up to 13 weeks, generally from the date of the surgery. There are provisions for extensions, where necessary.

Organ Donor Leave may be taken for the purpose of undergoing surgery to donate all or part of one of the following organs to a person: kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, small bowel.

Information about your right to take Organ Donor Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for unpaid, job-protected Child Death Leave:

  • Up to 104 weeks, taken in a single period within the 105-week period beginning with the week in which the child dies.

Child Death Leave may be taken with respect to the death of a child (your child, step-child, child under your legal guardianship or foster child who is under 18 years of age). You must have been employed by McMaster University for at least six consecutive months to be eligible for this leave.

Information about your right to take Child Death Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for job-protected Domestic or Sexual ViolenceLeave:

  • Up to 10 days and/or 15 weeks within a calendar year, of which the first 5 days are paid.

Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave may be taken if you or your child has experienced or been threatened with domestic or sexual violence, for any of the following particular purposes:

  • seeking medical attention for a physical or mental injury or disability caused by the violence;
  • obtaining services from a victim services organization;
  • receiving psychological or other professional counselling;
  • relocating, either temporarily or permanently; or
  • seeking legal or law enforcement assistance, including participation in a criminal or civil trial.

You must have been employed by McMaster University for at least 13 weeks to qualify for this leave.

Information about your right to take Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.

Please also visit the University’s Sexual Violence Response Coordinator in the Equity and Inclusion Office more information about support services and resources.

The Employment Standards Act of Ontario includes the following provisions for unpaid, job-protected Reservist Leave:

  • Leave for the time necessary to engage in the operation;
  • Reinstatement to the same position if it still exists or to a comparable position if it does not.

Reservist Leave may be taken if you are a military reservist and are deployed to an international operation or to an operation within Canada that is or will be providing assistance in dealing with an emergency or its aftermath (including search and rescue operations).  You must have been employed with McMaster University for at least six consecutive months to be eligible for this leave.

Information about your right to take Reservist Leave is available in the Ontario government’s Guide to the Employment Standards Act.