Fact Sheet

A Summary of Protected Leave Options

The Employment Standards Code provides a number of protected leaves to allow employees time to deal with certain events in their lives without risking the loss of their job.

What leaves are available to employees?

There are twelve protected leave options for employees:

Type of leave Length of leave Purpose of leave
Maternity Leave 17 weeks For an employee expecting to give birth to a child
Parental Leave 37 weeks For parents to care for their new child
Family Leave 3 days For an employee to deal with family responsibilities or personal illness
Compassionate Care Leave 28 weeks For an employee to care for a very ill family member
Long-Term Leave for Serious Injury or Illness 17 weeks For an employee who has a long-term serious injury or illness.
Domestic Violence Leave 10 Days and     17 Weeks For an employee to address a situation of violence in the home.
Leave for Organ Donation 13 weeks For an employee to donate an organ or tissue
Bereavement Leave 3 days For an employee to deal with the death of a family member
Leave for Reservists When needed for service For an employee in the Canadian Forces Reserve who needs time to serve
Leave for Citizenship Ceremony 4 hours For a new Canadian to receive their certificate of citizenship
Leave Related to the Death or Disappearance of a Child

If the child has disappeared 
If the child has died
52 weeks 
104 weeks
For parents dealing with the death or disappearance of a child that occurred as a result of a crime
Leave Related to Critical Illness of a Child 37 weeks For parents to provide care and support to a critically ill child


How long must employees work before they qualify for the leave?

How long must employees work before they qualify for the leave?

For leave related to the death or disappearance of a child, leave related to the critical illness of a child, family leave, bereavement leave, leave for organ donation, and leave for a citizenship ceremony, employees must work for the same employer for 30 days to qualify for leave. 

For compassionate care leave, long-term leave for serious injury or illness, and domestic violence leave employees must work for the same employer for 90 days.  (Domestic violence leave is effective June 1, 2016).

For reservist, maternity, and parental leave, employees must work for the same employer for 7 consecutive months to qualify for leave.

Who is eligible for the leave?

All leaves have specific requirements. For more information on a specific leave, see the fact sheets on our website or contact Employment Standards. Generally, employees must work for the same employer for a qualifying period and provide reasonable notice in advance of the leave.

Who decides what type of leave an employee is taking?

Employees must tell their employer what type of leave they are taking. The employer will need enough detail to show the time off work meets the requirements for the leave.

When employees request time off, the employer should ask whether they are advising of a leave available under The Employment Standards Code or requesting permission for unpaid time off. Employers do not control when employees can take a leave provided by law, but they do control other types of time off work.

Who are considered family members?

Family is defined very broadly for Employment Standards’ purposes. Children, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, spouses, common law spouses, brothers, sisters, step-brothers, step-sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews are all considered family members. The definition also includes those who are not related, but whom the employee considers to be like a close relative.

Who is considered to be a parent for Leave Related to the Death or Disappearance of a Child and for Leave Related to Critical Illness of a Child?

For these leaves, a “parent” is defined as:

  • A parent of a child;
  • The spouse or common-law partner of a parent of a child;
  • A person with whom the child was placed for the purposes of adoption;
  • The guardian or foster parent of a child; or,
  • A person who has the care, custody or control of a child, and is considered to be like a close relative, whether or not they are related.

Can employees be terminated or laid off for taking a leave provided by The Employment Standards Code?

No. Employers cannot terminate or lay off employees solely because they have taken or requested a leave.

Does the employer need to pay during the leave?

Only Domestic Violence Leave has a paid portion.  Employers are not required to pay wages during any other protected leave, although may choose to provide greater standards or wages than those set out in the legislation.  For all leaves, employers must provide the time off and allow employees to return to their job when the leave has ended.

Are there programs to pay employees while on leave?

The federal government has income support programs to cover certain types of leave.  To learn more, call Service Canada toll-free at 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

What if the employee's job is no longer available?

Employees must be given a position that is comparable with the same pay and benefits if the job they were doing prior to the leave is no longer available. There may be some circumstances where employers do not have a position available for reasons completely unrelated to the leave. For example, employees who are on unpaid leave would not necessarily be protected from losing their jobs if the employer shut down part of their operations and reduced their workforce based on a seniority system.

Employers must show the leave has no impact on the decision to lay-off or terminate the employment.

What if the employer refuses to bring the employee back to work?

Employees must be allowed to return to their job, or a comparable job, with the same or greater benefits and pay when they return from leave. Employers may not discriminate or attempt to punish employees for taking a leave.

How does an unpaid leave affect vacations?

Employment is considered continuous during a legislated or approved leave of absence from work.  This means that an employee is still employed, though not earning wages for the period of the leave.  The leave does not affect an employee’s right to take vacation time; it only affects the amount of vacation wages earned. See the Vacations & Vacation Pay page for details on earning and paying vacation.

What happens to pension and other benefits while an employee is on leave?

While employees are on leave the employment is deemed to be continuous. When employees return from the leave, they are still entitled to any benefits they had before the leave and their years of service include the time away on the leave.

What is a period of employment?

The length of time from when an employee starts working for an employer until the day the employment ends.

The period of employment also includes periods of temporary interruption in employment (a layoff, an unpaid leave) seasonal employment, and when an employee returns to work for the same employer after a break of less than two months.  Employees who work in a seasonal industry and return to work with the same employer each season have continuous service. Each consecutive season they return adds one more year of service to their total period of employment.

For more information contact Employment Standards:

Phone:     204-945-3352 or toll free in Canada 1-800-821-4307

Fax:           204-948-3046

E-mail:     employmentstandards@gov.mb.ca

Website:  www.manitoba.ca/labour/standards

This is a general overview and the information used is subject to change. For detailed information, please refer to current legislation including The Employment Standards Code, The Construction Industry Wages Act , The Worker Recruitment and Protection Act, or contact Employment Standards.

Available in alternate formats
upon request.


Date Published: May 25, 2017