Leave Related to Critical Illness of a Child

This leave is unpaid time off work for up to 37 weeks to allow parents to provide care and support for a critically ill child who is under 18 years old.

Who can take a Leave Related to Critical Illness of a Child?

Employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 30 days, and are a parent of a critically ill child under 18 years old are entitled to the leave.

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.

What is the definition of a critically ill child?

A child under 18 years old with a life-threatening illness or injury for which continued parental care or support is required.  This is the same as the definition used in the regulations made under the federal government’s Employment Insurance Act.

How long is the Leave Related to Critical Illness of a Child?

The leave is available to employees for up to 37 weeks to provide care or support to a critically ill child under 18 years old. Employees can take the leave to care for and support their child without the fear of job loss.

What must employees provide for the leave?

Employees must provide their employer with a certificate from a doctor indicating that the child is critically ill and requires the care or support of the parent for a specified amount of time.

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).

How do employees start the leave?

The need for this type of leave is unpredictable. When possible, employees must give at least one pay period of notice before the leave and provide their employer with a doctor's certificate as soon as possible.

What if an employee cannot give notice?

Employees are still entitled to the leave even if they are unable to give notice.

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.

What happens when the leave ends?

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.

What if employees want to end Leave Related to Critical Illness of a Child early?

Unless the employee and employer agree otherwise, an employee who wants to return to work earlier than the date the leave ends must give the employer written notice of at least one pay period. 

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.

Is the employer required to keep information related to the leave confidential?

Yes.  Unless it is required by law or the employee has given consent, employers cannot disclose information related to a leave except to other persons in the workplace who need it to carry out their duties.

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



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