Featured Lawyers
Practice Areas

Media Contacts

Genevieve Chalifour
Media Relations Specialist
+1 514 871 5987
+1 514 554 1594 (mobile)

Download vCard

Changes to Family Medical Leave in Ontario

  • Share this page
October 27, 2006


As of October 26, 2006, the number of employees entitled to take Family Medical Leave under Ontario's Employment Standards Act (the "ESA") has increased significantly.

The Family Medical Leave provisions contained in section 49.1 of the ESA enable eligible employees to take an unpaid leave of absence from work of up to 8 weeks in order to provide care for a gravely ill family member who is at a risk of death within 26 weeks.

Until yesterday, the list of employees eligible for such leave was relatively short, including only the following under the definition of "family member" for the purposes of the ESA:
  • 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

Today however, as a result of the changes implemented by the McGuinty government, this list has expanded. According to Regulation 476/06 of the ESA, the definition of "family member" now includes the following additional persons:
  • 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
  • the nephew or niece of the employee or of the employee's spouse
  • the spouse of the employee's grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
  • a person who considers the employee to be like a family member, provided that if requested by the employer, the employee provide a completed copy of the Compassionate Care Benefits Attestation form that can be obtained from Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

It is not clear how broadly the "like a family member" category will be interpreted; however, it is clear that these changes will undoubtedly increase the number of employees requesting Family Medical Leave under the ESA.

If you have any questions about Family Medical Leave or about administering these changes in your workplace, please feel free to contact Martin Denyes at 416-868-3489 or Maria Giagilitsis at 416-868-3544.