Fact Sheet

Compassionate Care Leave

Compassionate care leave gives employees the opportunity to take up to 28 weeks of unpaid leave to care for or support a critically ill family member who has a significant risk of death within the next 26 weeks.

What is the difference between compassionate care leave and family leave?

Compassionate Care Leave provides employees the opportunity to assist a family member who is critically ill and requires care and support for up to 28 weeks.

Family Leave is a short leave to take care of the needs of the employees’ family or a personal illness.

Who qualifies for Compassionate Care Leave?

Employees who have worked with the same employer for at least 90 days qualify for this leave. Employees must provide a certificate from a doctor indicating a family member has a serious medical condition, has a significant risk of death within the next 26 weeks, and needs care and support.

How long is the leave?

The leave is up to 28 weeks. Employees can take the leave in one or two periods that must be at least one week long. 

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.

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.

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 if employees want to end Compassionate Care Leave 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 at least 48 hours notice. 

Can employees be terminated or laid off because they take a leave?

No. Employers cannot terminate or lay off employees for taking or requesting a leave.

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.

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 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 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 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.

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.

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).

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